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Departure from Port Jackson, with the Lady Nelson. Examination of 
various parts of the East Coast, from thence to Sandy Cape. Break-sea 
Spit. Anchorage in Hervey's Bay, where the Lady Nelson joins after 
a separation. Some account of the inhabitants. Variations of the com- 
pass; Run to Bustard Bay. Port Curtis discovered, and examined. 
Some account of the surrounding country. Arrival in Keppel Bay, and 
examination of its branches, one of which leads into Port Curtis. Some 
account of the natives, and of the country round Keppel Bay. Astrono- 
mical and nautical observations. 

Lieutenant John Murray, commander of the brig Lady Nelson,^ isos. 
having received orders to put himself under my command, I gave Thur/22. 
him a small code of signals, and directed him, in case of separation, 
to repair to Hervey's Bay ; which he was to enter by a passage said 
vol. 11. B 

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9 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

I802. to have been found by the south-sea whalers, between Sandy Cape 

Thurs. 22. and Break-sea Spit, In the morning of July ss, we sailed out of 

Port Jackson together; and the breeze being fair and fresh, ran 

Plate vin.) rapidly to the northward, keeping at a little distance from the coast. 

At eleven o'clock, the south head of Broken Bay bore W. by 

N. three leagues ; and Mr. Westall then made a sketch of the 

il« A. V 1 1 1 j 

View 2.) entrance, with that of the Hawkesbury River, which falls into it. 
The colonists have called this place Broken Bay, but it is not what 
was so named by captain Cook; for he says it lies in latitude 33°4*' 
( Hawkesworth III. 103 ), whereas the southernmost point of entrance 
is not further than 33 34' south. There is, in captain Cook's latitude, 
a very small opening, and the hills behind it answer to his description 
of " some broken land that seemed to form a bay," when seen at 
four leagues, the distance he was off; but in reality, there is nothing 
more than a shallow lagoon in that place. In consequence of this 
difference in position, Cape Three-points has been sought three or 
four leagues to the north of Broken Bay ; whereas it is the north 
head of the entrance into the bay itself which was so named, and it 
corresponds both in situation and appearance. 

At noon, the south-eastern bluff of Cape Three-points bore S. 
64 W., seven or eight miles, and was found to lie in 33** 3a j' south 
and 15 1 # 23 j east. In steering northward along the coast, at from 
six to two miles distance, we passed two rocky islets lying under 
the high shore ; and at sunset, Coal Island, in the entrance of Port 
Hunter, bore N. g° W., five or six miles. This port was discovered 
in 1 797 by the late captain John Shortland, and lies in 3ft 56' south, 
longitude 151 43' east. 

We passed Port Stephens a little before midnight ; and the 

breeze being fresh at W. by S., the Lady Nelson was left astern; 

Friday 23. and we lay to for an hour next morning, to wait her coming up. 

The land was thep scarcely visible, but a north course brought us in 

Plate ix.) with the Three Brothers; and at four in the afternoon, they bore 

from S. 56 to 6 5 W., the nearest land being a low, but steep point, 

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Towards Hervey's Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 8 

distant four or five miles in the first direction. The Three Brothers isos. 
lie from one to five miles behind the shore, at the eastern extremity Friday 23. 
of a range of high land, coming out of the interior country. The 
northernmost hill is the broadest, most elevated, and nearest to the 
water side ; and being visible fifty miles from a ship's deck, is an 
excellent landmark for vessels passing along the coast : its latitude 
is 31° 43' south, and longitude 152 45' east. 

To the northward of the Three Brothers there is four leagues 
of low, and mostly sandy shore ; and after passing it, we came up 
with a projection, whose top is composed of small, irregular-shaped 
hummocks, the northernmost of them being a rocky lump of a 
sugar-loaf form ; further on, the land falls back into a shallow bight, 
with rocks in it standing above water. When abreast of the projec- 
tion, which was called Tacking Point, the night was closing in, and 
we stood off shore, intending to make the same part next morning ; 
for some of this coast had been passed in the dark by captain Cook, 
and might therefore contain openings. 

At daybreak of the 24th, Tacking Point was distant three miles, Saturday 24. 
and the breeze fresh at S. W. by W. with fine weather. Our little 
consort being out of sight, we stood an hour to the southward ; and 
not seeing her in that direction, bore away along the coast until noon, 
when our situation was as under : 

Latitude observed - - 30 58I/ 

Longitude by time-keepers - - 153 67 

Northern Brother, dist. 48 miles, bore - S. 23 W. 

Smoky Cape, distant 3 or 4 miles, N. 41 to 30- W. 

Northern extreme of the land, - N. 5 W. 

The coast from Tacking Point to Smoky Cape is generally 

low and sandy ; but its uniformity is broken at intervals by rocky 

points, which first appear like islands. Behind them the land is low, 

but quickly rises to hills of a moderate height ; and these being well 

covered with wood, the country had a pleasant appearance. Smoky 

Cape was found to answer the description given of it by captain 

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4 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

i8os. Cook ; its centre lies in 30° $g south, and 153 4' east. The three 
Saturday 24. hummocks upon it stand on so many projecting parts ; and at half a 
mile from the southernmost lie two rocks, and a third two miles 
further south, which were not before noticed. On the north side of 
Smoky Cape, the coast falls back four or five miles to the westward, 
forming a bight in the low land, where there may probably be a 
shallow inlet ; it afterwards resumed a northern direction, and con- 
sisted as before of sandy beaches and stony points. 

Our consort was not yet in sight ; but we kept on until five 
in the evening, when the nearest land was two miles off, and the 
northern hummock on Smoky Cape bore S. 4, W. nine leagues. I 
had before seen the coast further northward, as far as 29 20' ; and 
having therefore no inducement to lose a night's run for its exami- 
nation, we steered onward, passing without side of the Solitary Isles. 
Sunday 25. At three in the morning, hove to until day-light; and at eight o'clock 
made the south head of a bay discovered in the Norfolk ( Introd. 
p. cxciv), and named Shoal Bay. One of the marks for finding 
this small place is a peaked hummock on the low land, thirteen 
miles distant ; and it was now set over the south head of the bay at 
S. so W. In steering northward close along the coast, we passed 
two small reefs, and the water shoaled to 10 fathoms ; they lie two 
miles off the land, and there did not seem to be any safe pas- 
sage within them. Our latitude at noon was 29° 4', and longitude 
by time keepers 153 3 1' ; the shore was three miles off, but until we 
came up with Cape Byron at five in the evening, there was no pro- 
jection worthy of being particularly noticed. From Shoal Bay to 
Cape Byron is fifty miles, where the coast, with the exception of two 
or three rocky heads, is mostly low and sandy ; and the soundings, 
at from two to four miles off, vary between 10 and 32 fathoms, on a 
sandy bottom. A few miles back the land rises to hills of moderate 
elevation, which were poorly covered with wood in the southern 
part, but towards the cape had a more fertile appearance. 

Cape Byron is a small steep head, projecting about two miles 

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Towards Hervey's Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 5 

from the low land, and in coming along the coast makes like an iso*. 

island; its latitude is 28 38', and longitude 153 37', or 7' east of Sunday 25, 

the situation assigned to it by captain Cook. There are /three rocks 

on its north side ; and in the direction of N. 57 W., eight or nine 

leagues from it, is the peaked top of a mass of mountains, named by 

its discoverer Mount Wahting ; whose elevation is about 3300 feet, 

and exceeds that of Mount Dromedary, or any other land I have seen 

upon this East Coast. To Mr. Westall's sketch of this remarkable p/xvnr. 

peak it may be added, that the surrounding hills were well covered View s.) 

with wood, whose foliage announced a soil more fertile than usual 

so near the sea side. 

The sun was near setting at the time Cape Byron bore west, 
three or four miles ; and the coast from thence to Point Look-out 
having been seen by captain Cook, we steered off in order to avoid 
falling in with the reefs of Point Danger in the night. At eleven, 
hauled more in for the land ; and at eight next day, Mount Warning Monday w. 
was set at S. 25* W., twenty leagues. On coming in with Point Look- 
out, I took observations for the latitude and longitude, which fixed 
it in 27 27' south, and 153° 31' east. The latitude is the same as it 
had been made in the Norfolk, (Introd. p. cxcv), but is 19' south, 
and 3' west of the situation given in captain Cook's chart. The 
bearings of the land at noon were, 

Point Look-out, distant 3 leagues, - S. 9 W. 

Moreton entrance to Glass-house Bay, S. 55 W. 

Cape Moreton, distant six leagues, - N. 18 W. 
A strange vessel seen to the southward, had induced me to 
carry little sail all the morning ; it was now perceived not to be the 
Lady Nelson, but probably one of the two whalers known to be 
fishing off the coast; we therefore made sail for Cape Moreton, and 
came up with it at four o'clock. I was much surprised to see a small, 
but dangerous reef lying between four and five miles off this cape 
to the north-east, which had not been noticed in the Norfolk ; in 

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6 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. entering^ Glass-house Bay I had then hauled close round Cape More- 
Monday 26. ton at dusk in the evening, and in coming out had passed too far 
westward to observe it. The longitude of Cape Moreton was now 
fixed by the time keepers at 153 26^' east, differing only ij from 
the lunar observations before taken in the Norfolk ; when its latitude 
had been settled at 27 o±' south. 
(Atlas, After passing the dangerous reef, we steered northward until 

Tfo^y'b three in the morning ; and then hove to until daylight, for the pur- 
pose of examining the land about Double-island Point and Wide 
Bay, which did not appear to have been well distinguished by cap- 
tain Cook. At seven o'clock the point bore N. 2 W., six leagues, 
and the shore abreast, a beach with sandy hills behind it, was dis- 
tant six miles. Between the S. 63 W. and a low bluff head bear- 
ing S. 32° W., was a bight in the coast where the sand hills seemed 
to terminate ; for the back land further south was high and rocky 
with small peaks on the top, similar to the ridge behind the Glass 
Houses, of which it is probably a continuation. 

At half past nine we hauled close round Double-island Point, 
/ within a rock lying between one and two miles to the N. N. E., hav- 

ing 7 fathoms for the least water. The point answered captain 
Cook's description : it is a steep head, at the extremity of a neck of 
land which runs out two miles from the main, and lies in 25 tfi' south, 
and 153° 13' east. On the north side of the point the coast falls back 
to the westward, and presents a steep shore of white sand ; but in 
curving round Wide Bay the sandy land becomes very low, and a 
small opening was seen in it, leading to a piece of water like a la- 
goon ; but the shoals which lie off the entrance render it difficult of 
access, if indeed there be a passage for any thing larger than boats. 
Had the Lady Nelson been with me, I should have attempted to get 
her into the lagoon, having previously entertained a conjecture that 
the head of Hervey's Bay might communicate with Wide Bay ; 
but the apprehension that lieutenant Murray would arrive at the 

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Towards Hervey's Bay.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 7 

first rendezvous, and proceed to the next before we could join 1802. 
him, deterred me from attempting it with the Investigator or with Tuesday 27. 

Upon the north side of the opening there was a number of 
Indians, fifty as reported, looking at the ship, and near Double- 
island Point ten others had been seen, implying a more numerous 
population than is usual to the southward. I inferred from hence, 
that the piece of water at the head of Wide Bay was extensive and 
shallow ; for in such places the natives draw much subsistence from 
the fish which there abound, and are more easily caught than in deep 
water. So far as could be seen from the mast head at three or four 
miles off, the water extended about five miles westward, to the feet 
of some hills covered with small wood. Its extent north and south 
could not be distinguished, and it seemed probable that one, and 
perhaps two streams fall into it ; for there were many large medusas 
floating at the entrance, such as are usually found near the mouths 
of rivers in this country. 

We passed the shoals of Wide Bay in from is to 5 fathoms 
water ; and steered northward at the distance of six, and from that 
to two miles off the shore, until dark. Captain Cook describes this 
part of the coast as moderately high and very barren ; there being 
great patches of moveable sand many acres in extent, through which 
appeared in some places the green tops of trees half buried, and in 
others the naked trunks of such as the sand had destroyed. We 
sailed some miles nearer to it than the Endeavour had done, and 
saw extensive, bare patches in many parts ; but nothing to indicate 
the sands being moveable ; and in general, there were shrubs, 
bushes, and some trees scattered over the hills in front of the sea. 
Nothing however can well be imagined more barren than this penin- 
sula ; but the smokes which arose from many parts, corroborated 
the remark made upon the population about Wide Bay ; and be- 
spoke that fresh water was not scarce in this sandy country. 

Our course at night was directed by the fires on the shore, 

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8 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

I802. and the wind being moderate from the south-westward, it was con- 
tinued until ten o'clock ; after which we stood off and on till day- 

Wednes. 28. light, and then had Indian Head bearing S. 54 W. one mile and a 
half. This head was so named by captain Cook, from the great 
number of Indians assembled there in 1770. Mr. Westali's sketch of 
it, taken as we steered close along the shore for Sandy Cape, will 

Plate xviii. show that the same sterility prevailed here as in the southern part 

View 4 ) 

of the peninsula ; and it continued to the northern extremity. 

At eleven o'clock we reached Sandy Cape, and the master was 
sent a-head to sound in a small passage through Break-sea Spit. 
The ship followed under easy sail, until we got into 3 fathoms ; and 
the master not making the signal for any deeper water, I tacked 
and called the boat on board. The channel appeared to go quite 
through the Spit, into Hervey's Bay; but as there were, in many 
parts, not more than 2 fathoms, it can be passed only by small ves- 
sels. At noon, 

Sandy Cape, distant 2 miles, bore - S. 64 to 8o° W. 

Indian Head, distant 7 leagues, - S. 19 E. 

Our observations fixed Sandy Cape in 24 4ft' south, and 153 16' 
east, being g' north, and 7' east of the position assigned to it by 
captain Cook. 

At one o'clock we steered northward, close to the edge of 
Break-sea Spit, searching for a passage through it into Hervey's 
Bay. There were many small winding channels amongst the 
breakers, and a larger being perceived at three, the boat was sent to 
make an examination ; in the mean time, the wind having shifted to 
north-west and become very light, we dropped the stream anchor 
two miles from the Spit, in 11 fathoms, fine grey sand. The channel 
where the boat was sounding, and out 6f which a tide came of more 
than one mile an hour, bore W. by N. f N., and Sandy Cape S. 24 . 
to 41 W., about three leagues. 

Soon after sunset the master returned, and reported the 
channel to be nearly a mile and a half wide, and that it went quite 

Digitized by 



through to the bay ; but it did not generally contain more than isos. 
fourteen feet water, and was therefore impassable for the Inves- wednSi s«. 
tigator. The bottom of this, and of the former small channel, as also 
the shoaler banks of the Spit, were of coral, mixed with coral sand. 

At three in the morning, on a breeze springing up at S. W. by Unit*. 29. 
S., we stretched south-eastward ; and a vessel having been observed 
over night off Indian Head, this tack was prolonged till seven 
o'clock ; when seeing nothing of her, we stood back for the Spit, 
and coasted close along its east side as before, in from 10 to 5 fathoms 
water. At forty minutes after noon we passed over the tail of the 
Spit, in latitude 24° 24' ; the water then deepening suddenly from 6 
and 7, to 22 fathoms, and the white patches on Sandy Cape bearing 
S. 8° E. In standing N. W. by W. we crossed a bank in 1 1 fathoms* 
and on tacking, passed another part of it with only 5 ; the water upon 
it was not discoloured, nor had it been observed either by captain 
Cook, or by me in the Norfolk : it lies about 6 miles W. N. W . from 
the end of Break-sea Spit. 

The first rendezvous appointed for lieutenant Murray, was the 
anchorage near Sandy Cape ; but the wind being unfavourable, we 
did not reach it till four on the following afternoon ; at which time Friday 30. 
the anchor was dropped in 7 fathoms, sandy bottom, with the outer 
extremity of the cape bearing S. 79 E., and the nearest part distant 
two miles. A vessel was seen on the outside of the Spit, which 
proved to be the Lady Nelson; and the master being sent with a 
boat to assist her through the passage, she anchored near us at 
sunset, and lieutenant Murray came on board. The account he gave 
of his separation, and the delay in arriving at the rendezvous, con- 
vinced me both of the Lady Nelson being an indifferent vessel, and of 
the truth of an observation before made upon the currents : that they 
run much stronger to the southward at the distance of six, and from ' 
that to twenty leagues off the coast, than they do close in with the 
shore. Mr. Murray not being much accustomed to make free with 
the land, had kept it barely within sight, and had been much retarded. 
vol. 11. C 

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10 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

lew. In order to give the botanists an opportunity of examining the 

Friday*), productions of Sandy Cape, I determined to remain here a day ; and 
some natiyes being seen upon the beach, a boat was sent to com- 
mence an acquaintance with them ; they however retired, and suffered 
Saturday si. Mr. Brown to botanise without disturbance. Next morning the brig 
anchored within a quarter of a mile of the shore, to cover our landing 
parties ; and the armed boats being moored at grapnels, out of the 
reach of the natives, we separated into three divisions. The natura- 
list's party, consisting of six persons, walked along the shore towards 
the upper part of the bay ; Mr. Murray and his people went to cut 
wood for fuel ; and the party ^with me, also of six persons, including 
my native friend Bongaree y went towards the extremity of Sandy Cape. 
Several Indians with branches of trees in their hands, were there 
collected ; and whilst they retreated themselves, were waving to us 
to go back. Bongaree stripped off his clothes and laid aside his 
spear, as inducements for them to wait for him ; but finding they 
did not understand his language, the poor fellow, in the simplicity 
of his heart, addressed them in broken English, hoping to succeed 
better. At length they suffered him to come up, and by degrees our 
whole party joined ; and after receiving some presents, twenty of 
them returned with us to the boats, and were feasted upon the 
blubber of two porpoises, which had been brought on shore pur- 
posely for them. At two o'clock the naturalists returned, bringing 
some of the scoop nets used by the natives in catching fish ; and we 
then quitted our new friends, after presenting them with hatchets 
and other testimonials of our satisfaction. 

These people go entirely naked, and otherwise much resemble 
the inhabitants of Port Jackson in personal appearance ; but they 
were more fleshy, perhaps from being able to obtain a better supply 
of food with the scoop nets, which are not known on the southern 
parts of the coast. I noticed in most of them a hard tumour on the 
outer knuckle of the wrist, which, if we understood them aright, 
was caused by the stretcher of the scoop coming in contact with this 

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HervetfsBay] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 11 

part in the act of throwing the net. Our native did not understand l 8 ™* 
a word of their language, nor did they seem to know the use of his Saturday si 
womerah or throwing stick ; for one of them being invited to imitate 
Bongaree, who lanced a spear with it very dexterously and to a great 
distance, he, in the most awkward manner, threw both womerah and 
spear together. Nothing like a canoe was seen amongst these people ; 
but they must have some means of passing over the water to short 
distances, since I found, in 1799, that Curlew Islet, near the head of 
this bay, had been visited. 

A species ofpandanus before found at Glass-house and Shoal 
Bays, grows in abundance upon Sandy Cape ; and notwithstanding 
the extreme sterility of the soil, the sand hills were mostly covered 
with bushes, and the vallies contained trees of the casuarina and 
eucalyptus. There was fresh water in a pool near the shore, and as 
a ship may lie within half a mile, both wood and water might be 
procured here without great difficulty ; but I doubt if the water would 
not altogether fail in the dry season. 

A tolerably regular tide set past the ship, N. N. E. and S. S. W., 
nearly one mile an hour ; and it appeared by the shore to be high 
water about eight hours after the moon's passage, and the common rise 
to be between six and seven feet. 

No mention has been made of the variation of the compass 
since leaving Port Jackson, A gradual diminution seems to take 
place from Twofold Bay, near the southern extremity of this 
coast, to Sandy Cape ; as will appear from the following observations. 

Lat- 87° 4 # Azim., one compass, on shore, - - 9 29' E. 

33 5* , , - - 8 51 

31 36 — , , head north, - - 9 8 

30 32 , three comp., • — , - 8 42 

26 10 , one comp., head N. by W. 8° 40', corr. 8 7 

25 o Ampl., , — N. W. by N. 9 39, - 8 9 

*4 43 > > — S.E.iS. 6 33, - 8 14 

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12 A VOYAGE TO [Ea*t CoaH. 

i8o«. The coast lies nearly north, and except Sandy Cape, appears to be 
toturi^si. mostly of free stone, which I have not found to produce any effect 
upon the needle ; and what is remarkable, on comparing my obser- 
vations with those of captain Cook, it appeared that little or no 
change had taken place in the variation, during thirty-two years ; for 
wherever our observations were taken with the ships heads in the 
same direction, there the same variation was obtained to a few minutes. 
Within Break-sea Spit, an amplitude gave the variation 
when corrected, 7 25* east ; and one taken at the anchorage near 
Sandy Cape, but uncorrected, the direction of the ship's head being 
unknown, 7 57' east. There is little doubt that on bringing the land 
to the eastward of the ship, the variation was diminished at least 
half a degree : the stone of Sandy Cape is granitic. 
August. In the morning of August 1, the wind was from the south- 

Sunday 1. war d ? an( j we steered across Hervey's Bay, towards a sloping hum- 
mock on the west side, where my examination in the Norfolk had 
terminated. The soundings increased from 7, gradually to 18 
fathoms, and afterwards decreased till half past four in the after- 
noon ; when the sloping hummock bore S. 2 E. eight miles, and we 
had no more than $± fathoms near some dry banks and breakers, 
which extend out three miles from two shallow inlets in the coast. 
At dusk the anchor was let go in 6± fathoms, mud and sand ; the 
shallow inlets to the south being distant 6 miles, and the sloping 
hummock bearing S. 17 E. In captain Cook's chart, the width of 
Hervey's Bay is fifty-nine miles, which had appeared to me too great 
when here in the Norfolk ; and I now made the distance, from the 
north-west extremity of Sandy Cape to a low point running out from 
the hummock, to be forty three miles by the time keepers. 6uch 
errors as this are almost unavoidable without the aid of these in- 
struments, when sailing either along a coast which lies nearly 
on the same parallel, or where no land is in sight to correct the 
longitude by bearings. From Port Jackson to Sandy Cape, captain 
Cook's positions had been found to differ from mine, not more than 

Digitized by 


Near Bustard Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 13 

from 10' east to 7' west ; which must be considered a great degree of ig^ 
accuracy, considering the expeditious manner in which he sailed along ^^f\ 
the coast, and that there were na time keepers on board the Endea- 
vour ; but from Sandy Cape northward, where the direction of the 
coast has a good deal of westing in it, greater differences began to 
show themselves. . 

There was a little tide running past the ship in the first part 
of the night from N. N. W., which appeared to be the flood setting 
into Hervey's Bay. At daybreak we pursued our course along the Monday 2. 
shore, at the distance of four or five miles, in soundings between 5 
and 9 fathoms. The coast was low, but not sandy ; and behind it 
was a range of hills extending north-westward, and like the flat 
country, was not ill clothed with wood. There was no remarkable 
projection till we cameto the south head of Bustard Bay; and the 
night being then at hand, we ran in and anchored on a sandy bottom, 
in 4± fathoms, nearly in the same spot where the Endeavour had 
lain thirty-two years before. 

The rocky south head of Bustard Bay, from the survey be- 
tween the preceding and following noons, should lie in «4° 9' south, 
and the time keepers placed it in 151 52' east; or 5' south and io' 
east of captain Cook's situation ; nor did the form of the Bay cor- 
respond to his chart.* The variation observed a few miles from the 
anchorage, was 8 # so' east, with the ship's head N. W. by N., or 6° 
5«' reduced to the meridian ; nearly as had been found in the morn- 
ing, when it was & 5$' corrected. This is a full degree less than it 
was on the east side of Sandy Cape, and captain Cook's observations 
show a still greater diminution. 

At daylight we proceeded along the coast ; but the wind being Tuesday 3. 
very light, were no more than abreast of the north head of Bustard 

The latitude 24° 4' was observed on board the Endeavour, at anchor here ; by whom 
is uncertain, but it was not by captain Cook or ' Mr. Green. In the Astronomical Obser- 
vations of the voyage, p. 134, Mr. Wales, in deducing the position of Bustard Bay, takes 
no notice of this observation,, and omits the latitude. 

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14 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 


.1*02 Bay at noon ; and the ship being drifted by the tide toward some 
Tuesday s. rocks lying off the head, a boat went to sound amongst them for a 
passage ; in the mean time an air sprung up at north ; and having 
got the ship's head to the eastward, we stretched off from the rocks. 
This north head lies in latitude 24 o', as laid down by captain Cook, 
and bears from the south head N. 44° W., twelve miles ; it is mode- 
rately high, and behind it is a mass of hummocky, barren hills, 
which extend far to the westward. A reef lies out as far as two 
miles from the north head ; but within the outer rock above water 
our boat had 14 fathoms, and there was room for a ship to pass. 

Not being able to weather the reef before dark, we worked to 
windward during the night ; bearing down frequently to the Lady 
Wedneid. 4. Nelson, to prevent separation. At daylight, the wind had shifted 
gradually round, from north to the south-westward ; and at noon 
the north head of Bustard Bay was brought to bear S. 16° E., four 
leagues, our latitude being then ag° 48', and longitude 151 40'. A 
low island was seen from the mast head, bearing north at the sup- 
posed distance of six leagues, of which captain Cook does not make 
any mention ;* and the furthest visible part of the main land was a 
conspicuous hill, named Mount Larcom y in compliment to captain 
Larcom of the navy. It bore W. £° N., ten or eleven leagues ; but 
the coast line between it and the north head of Bustard Bay, seemed 
to be much broken. 

In the afternoon, a breeze from the north-westward enabled 
us to stretch in for the land ; and we anchored soon after sunset in 
10 fathoms, brown sand, five or six miles from a projection which 
received the name of Gatcombe Head; and to the southward of it 

• A cluster of low islands, about fifteen leagues from the coast, was seen in the 
following year by Mr. Bunker, commander of the Albion, south whaler. He described 
^ the cluster to be of considerable extent, and as lying in latitude 2Si°, and longitude about 
152$° ) or nearly a degree to the eastward of the low isle above mentioned. It is pro- 
bably to these islands, whose existence captain Cook suspecte d, that the great flights of 
boobies he saw in Herrey's Bay retire at night. 

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Near Bustard Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 15 

there was a rather deep bight in the coast. The bearings of the iso*. 
land, taken a few minutes before anchoring, were as under. Weduil*4. 

North head of Bustard Bay, dist 5 leagues, S. 56 E. 
Gatcombe Head, - - - S. 86 W. 

Mount Larcom, - - - ' N. 80 W. 

Northern extreme of the coast, - N. 46 W. 

The chain of hills which rises near Bustard Bay, was seen to stretch 
westward a few miles behind the shore, till it was lost at the back of 
Mount Larcom. These hills were not destitute of wood, but they 
had a barren appearance; and the coast was more rocky than sandy. 
At this anchorage, the flood tide came from the north-by-east, and 
the ebb set east, half a mile per hour. f 

At daylight of the 5th, we closed in with the shore, steering Thimday 5. 
north-westward; and at nine o'clock a small opening was discovered, 
and water seen over the low front land. The Lady Nelson was 
ordered to look for anchorage ; and at. eleven we came to, in 4 
fathoms brown sand, one mile from the east point of the opening ; 
and the following bearings were then taken : 

Southern extreme of the coast, over the east point, S. 36 E. 

Rocky islet in the middle of the opening, dist. i£ mile, S. 28 W. 

Mount Larcom, - - - S, 75 W. 

Hummock at the northern extreme (C. Capricorn), N. 18 W. 
The opening was not so much as a mile in width, but from 
the extent of water within, it was conjectured to have a communica- 
tion with the bight on the south side of Gatcombe Head ; and this 
being an object worthy of examination, the sails were furled and the 
boats hoisted out. The naturalist and his companions landed at the 
west side of the entrance, where some Indians had assembled to look 
at the ship; but they retired on the approach of our gentlemen, and 
afterwards taking the advantage of a hillock, began to throw stones 
at the party ; nor would they desist until two or three muskets were 
fired over their heads, when they disappeared. There were seven 
bark canoes lying on the shore, and near them hung upon a tree 

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16 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

i8(# some parts of a turtle; and scoop nets, such as those of Hervey's 

August. r» , 

ThuSday 5. Bay, were also seen. 

I proceeded up the opening in a boat, and lieutenant Murray 
got under way to follow with the brig ; but the tide ran up so 
rapidly, over a bottom which was rocky and very irregular in depth, 
that he anchored almost immediately, and came to the middle islet 
where I was taking angles. We then went over to the west shore, 
and ascended a hill called in the chart, Hill View ; from whence it 
was evident, that this water did certainly communicate with the 
bight roujid Gatcombfe Head, and by an opening much more con- 
siderable than that in which the vessels were anchored ; the port 
was also seen to extend far to the westward, and I was induced to 
form a regular plan for its examination. The northern entrance 
being too full of rocks and shoals for the Lady Nelson to pass, 
although drawing no more than six feet when the keels were hoisted 
up, Mr. Murray was desired to go round to the southern opening ; 
and about sunset he got under way. 
Friday 6. Early in the morning I went off in the whale boat, with two 

days provisions, and made nearly a straight course up the port, for 
a low point on the south shore called South-trees Point. The water 
was very shallow, with many rocks and dry banks, until the south- 
ern entrance was fairly open, when the depth varied between 7 and 
3 fathoms ; but there was from 6 to 8 close to the low point. This 
forms the inner part of the southern entrance, and Gatcombe Head, 
the outer part, lies from it S. 64 E. about four miles ; from the head 
southward, however, the width of the channel is much less, being 
contracted by banks which extend out from the opposite shore. 

Seeing nothing of the brig, I proceeded in the examination, 
steering westward for a small island four or five miles up the port. 
This is the southernmost of six islets, lying behind the point of Hill 
View, and from one of two hillocks upon it, another set of bearings 
was taken. The depth of water thus far, had varied from 8 fathoms, 
to six feet upon a middle shoal ; after which it deepened to 3, 4, 

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and 7 fathoms, and there was 10 close to the southern islet. The isos. 
Lady Nelson made her appearance off Gatcombe Head about noon ; FrktyV 
but not waiting for her, I went to a point on the northern shore, 
near two miles higher up, where the water was so deep that a ship 
might make fast to the rocks and trees : the soundings were very 
irregular from the southern isl£t, but the least depth was 5 fathoms. 

The port was here contracted to one mile in width; but it 
opened out higher up, and taking a more northern direction, assumed 
the form of a river. In steering across to the western shore, I car- 
ried from 8 to 4, and afterwards from 6 to 2 fathoms ; when turning 
northward for two islets covered with mangroves, the depth in- 
creased again to 7 fathoms. We tried to land upon a third islet, it 
being then sunset ; but a surrounding bank of soft mud making the 
islet inaccessible, we rowed on upwards, and landed with difficulty 
on the west shore before it became quite dark. The breadth of the 
stream here was about a mile; and the greatest depth 6 fathoms 
at low water. 

In the morning, a small opening was observed in the opposite, Saturday r . 
eastern shore; but reserving this for examination in returning, I 
proceeded upwards with a fair wind, five miles further, when the 
greatest depth any where to be found was 3 fathoms. The stream 
then divided into two arms ; the largest, about one mile in breadth, 
continuing its direction to the N. W. by N., and apparently ending a 
little further up ; the other running westward, but the greater part 
of both occupied by shallow water and mud banks. Upon the point 
of separation, which is insulated at high water, there were some low, 
reddish cliffs, the second observed on the west shore ; and from thence 
I set Mount Larcom at S. 15 15' W., distant seven or eight miles. 

This station was nine miles above the steep point, where the 
port is first contracted, and the steep point is ten from Gatcombe 
Head ; and conceiving it could answer no essentially useful purpose to 
pursue the examination where a ship could not go, I returned to the 
email opening in the eastern shore, opposite to where we had passed 

* VOL. II. D 

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1* A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. the night. There was 4 fathoms in the entrance of this little branch ; 
Saturday 7. but ft presently became shallow, and I landed to ascend a hill which 
had but little wood at the top. The sea was visible from thence ; 
and the ship at the northern entrance of the port was set at N. 89^* E., 
and Mount Larcom S. 5g^ W. The small, mangrove islets below 
this branch, were passed on the east side in our way down, there 
being a narrow channel with from 3 to 5 fathoms in it, close past 
two trees standing alone in the water; and at sunset we got on board 
the brig, lying at anchor off South-trees Point. 

Lieutenant Murray had found some difficulty in getting into 
the southern entrance, from a shoal which lay to the S. E. byE., 
one mile and a half from Gatcombe Head. He passed on the north 
side of the shoal, and brought deep water as far as South-trees Point ; 
but in steering onward, in mid-channel, had met with other banks, 
and was obliged to anchor. I desired Mr. Murray to ascertain as v 
he went out, whether there were any channel on the south side of 
Sunday 8. the shoal near Gatcombe Head ; and quitting the brig next morning, 
I landed on the larger island to the south of the point of Hill View, 
to take angles ; and soon after nine o'clock, reached the ship. 

During my absence, the botanical gentlemen had been on shore 
every day, lieutenant Flinders had made astronomical observations, 
and boats had been employed, though unsuccessfully, in fishing. 
No Indians had been seen on the east side of the port, and I there- 
fore gave a part of "the ship's company leave this afternoon, to land 
there and divert themselves. At eight in the evening a gun was 
heard in the offing ; and by the guidance of our light, the Lady 
Nelson returned to her anchorage four hours afterward. Mr. 
Murray had struck upon a reef, having kept too near the shore in 
the apprehension of missing the anchorage in the dark ; but his 
vessel did not appear to have sustained any other damage than the 
main sliding keel being carried away. 

As much time having been employed in the examination of this 
port as the various objects I had in view could permit, we prepared 

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Port Curtis.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 19 

to quit it on the fallowing morning. This part of the East Coast isos. 

had been passed in the night by captain Cook ; so that both the sundaes. 

openings escaped his notice, and the discovery of the port fell to our 

lot. In honour of admiral Sir Roger Curtis, who had commanded 

at the Cape of Good Hope and been so attentive to our wants, I 

gave to it the name of Port Curtis ; and the island which protects 

it from the sea, and in fact forms the port, was called Facing Island. 

It is a slip of rather low land, eight miles in length, and from two 

to half a mile in breadth, having Gatcombe Head for its southern 


The northern entrance to Port Curtis is accessible only to 
boats ; but ships of any size may enter the port by the southern 
opening. Mr. Murray did not find any passage on the south side of 
the shoal near Gatcombe Head, but could not say that none existed; 
he thought the deep channel to be not more than a mile wide ; but 
at half a mile from the head there was from 6 to 10 fathoms, and 
the channel from thence leads fair up the port to beyond South-trees 
Point; I suspected, however, from the account given by Mr. Murray, 
that there might be a second shoal, lying not so much as a mile 
from the head, and one is marked in the plan accordingly, that ships 
may be induced to greater caution. There is good anchorage just 
within Gatcombe Head ; and at a small beach there, behind a rock, 
is a rill of fresh water, and wood is easily to be procured. 

I cannot venture to give any other sailing directions for going 
up this port, than to run cautiously, with a boat a-head and the plan 
upon the binnacle. Both the bottom and shoals are usually a mix- 
ture of sand, with mud or clay ; but in the northern entrance, and 
off some of the upper points and islands where the tides run strong, 
the ground is in general rocky. 

The country round Port Curtis is overspread with grass, and 
produces the eucalyptus and other trees common to this coast ; yet 
the soil is either sandy or covered with loose stones, and generally 
incapable of cultivation. Much of the shores and the low islands 

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20 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. are overspread with mangroves, of three different species ; but that 
which sends down roots, or rather supporters from the branches, 
and interweaves so closely as to be almost impenetrable, was the 
most common. This species, the Rhizophora Mangle of Linnaeus, is 
also the most abundant in the East and West Indies; but is not 
found at Port Jackson, nor upon the south coast of this country. 

Granite, streaked red and black, and cracked in all directions, 
appeared to be the common stone in the upper parts of the port ; 
but a stratified argillaceous stone was not unfrequent; and upon the 
larger island, lying off the point of Hill View, there was a softish, 
white earth, which I took to be calcareous until it was tried with 
acids, and did not produce any effervescence. 

Traces of inhabitants were found upon all the shores where 
we landed, but the natives kept out of sight after the little skirmish 
on the first day of our arrival ; they subsist partly on turtle, and 
possess bark canoes and scoop nets. We saw three turtle lying on 
the water, but were not so fortunate as to procure any. Fish seemed 
to be plentiful, and some were speared by Bongaree, who was a 
constant attendant in my boat ; and yet our efforts with the seine 
were altogether unsuccessful. The shores abpund with oysters, 
amongst which, in the upper parts of the port, was the kind produc- 
ing pearls;. but being small and discoloured, they are of no value. 
The attempts made near the ship with the dredge, to procure larger 
oysters from the deep water, were without success. 

• I saw no quadrupeds in the woods, and almost no birds ; but 
there were some pelicans, gulls, and curlews about the shores and 
flats. Fresh water was found in small pools on both sides of the 
northern entrance, and at the point of Hill View I met with some in 
holes ; but that which best merits the attention of a ship, is the rill 
found .by Mr. Murray at the back of the small beach within Gat* 
combe Head. 

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Part Curtis.} TERRA AUSTRALIS. 21 

The latitude of our anchorage at the northern isos. 

entrance, from four meridian altitudes of ""i ** 

the sun, is - - 23 44' 16" south. 

Six sets of distances of the sun west of the 
moon, taken by lieutenant Flinders, would 
make the longitude 151* 21' 22" east ; the 
two time keepers gave 15 1° 20' id"; and 
fifty sets of distances, reduced from Broad 
Sound by the survey, which I consider to 
be the best authority, place the anchor- 
age in - - - - - - 151 20 15 east 

These being reduced by the survey to the southern entrance, place 
Gatcombe Head in latitude 23° 5 2 t S. 
longitude 151 24 E. 
No variations were observed at the anchorage ; 
but two amplitudes off Gatcombe Head 
gave 11 11', and azimuths with three 
compasses, io° 50' east, the ship's head 
being W. S. W. and W. N. W. These 
being reduced to the meridian, will give 
the true variation to be - - - 8° 40' east. 

This is an increase of near 2 from Bustard Bay ; and seems attribut- 
able to the attraction of the granitic land which lay to the westward, 
and drew the sbuth end of the needle that way. 

The rise of tide at the place where I slept near the head of the 
port, was no more than four feet ; but upon the rocky islet in the 
northern entrance, there were marks of its having risen the double 
of that quantity. The time of high water was not well ascertained, 
but it will be between eight and nine hours-after the moon's passage 
over and under the meridian. 

On getting under way at daylight of the 9th, to prosecute the Monday 9. 
examination of the coast, the anchor came up with an arm broken 
off, in consequence of a flaw extending two-thirds through the iron. ■ 

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*2 A VOYAGE TO \East Coast. 

isos. The negligence with which this anchor had been made, might in some 
Monday 9. cases have caused the loss of the ship. 

In following the low and rather sandy shore, northward to 
Cape Capricorn, we passed within a rocky islet and another com- 
posed of rock and sand, four miles south-east of the cape, the sound- 
ings being there from 8 to 9 fathoms ; and at ten o'clock hauled 
round for Cape Keppel, which lies from Cape Capricorn N. 8o° W., 
ten miles. The shore is low, with some small inlets in it, and sand 
banks with shoal water run offmore than two miles ; at six miles out 
there is a hummocky island and four rocks, one of which was at first 
taken for a ship. We passed within these, as captain Cook had before 
done ; and at half past two in the afternoon anchored in Keppel 
Bay, in 6 fathoms soft bottom, three-quarters of a mile from a head 
on the east side of the entrance. 

My object in stopping at this bay was to explore two openings 
marked in it by captain Cook, which it was possible might be the 
entrances of rivers leading into the interior. So soon as the ship was 
secured, a boat was sent to haul the seine, and I landed with a party 
of the gentlemen to inspect the bay from an eminence called Sea 
Hill. There were four places where the water penetrated into the 
land, but none of these openings were large ; that on the west side, 
in which were two islands, was the most considerable, and the hills 
near it were sufficiently elevated to afford an extensive view; 
whereas in most other parts, the shores were low and covered with 
mangroves. These considerations induced me to begin the proposed 
Tuesday 10. examination by the western arm; and early next morning I em- 
barked in the Lady Nelson, intending to employ her and my whale 
boat in exploring the bay and inlets, whilst the botanists made their 
excursions in the neighbourhood of the ship. 

The depth in steering for the western arm was from 6 
f - to 9 fathoms, for about one mile, when it diminished quickly to 2, 
upon a shoal which seemed to run up the bay ; the water after- 
wards deepened to 5 and 7 fathoms, but meeting with a second 

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shoal, the brig was obliged to anchor. I then went on in my boat i 802 - 
for the nearest of the two islands, passing over the banks and cross- Tuesday ia 
ing the narrow, deep channels marked in the plan. The two islands 
are mostly very low, and the shores so muddy and covered with 
mangroves, that a landing on the northern and highest of them could 
be effected only at the west end ; but a hillock there enabled me to 
take an useful set of bearings, including Mount Larcom, which is 
visible from all parts of this bay, as it is from Port Curtis. 

-In the afternoon I proceeded up the western arm, having 
from 3 to 8 fathoms close along the northern shore ; and about four 
miles up, where the width was diminished to one mile, found a 
landing place, a rare convenience here, and ascended a hill from 
whence there was a good view. At five or six leagues to the south, 
and extending thence north-westward, was a continuation of the 
same chain of hills which rises near Bustard Baytand passes behind 
Mount Larcom ; but at the back of Keppel Bay it forms a more 
connected ridge, and is rocky, steep, and barren. Within this ridge 
the land is low, and intersected by various streams, some falling 
into the western arm at ten or twelve miles above the entrance, and 
others into the south-west and south arms of the bay. The borders 
of the western arm, and of its upper branches so far as could be 
perceived, were over-run with mangroves ; whence it seemed pro- 
bable the water was salt, and that no landing was practicable, higher 
than this station ; the sun also was near setting when my bearings 
from West-arm Hill were completed ; and I therefore gave up the 
intention of proceeding further, and returned to the northern island 
in the entrance, to pass the night. 

It was high water here at seven in the evening, and the tide 
fell nine and a half feet ; but the morning's tide rose to six and a half Wednes. n. 
only. In rowing out between the two islands, I had from 8 to 3 
fathoms ; but shoal water in crossing from thence to the entrance of 
the south-west arm, where again there was 5 to 8 fathoms. A strong 
wind from the south-eastward did not permit me to go up this 

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24 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

A^St arm * anc * *^ e extens ^ ve A ats made it impossible to land upon the south 
Wednes. ii. side of the bay ; and finding that nothing more could be done at this 
time, I returned to the ship. 

The numerous shoals in Keppel Bay rendering the services of 
the Lady Nelson in a great measure useless to the examination, I 
directed lieutenant Murray to run out to the hummocky island lying 
to the north-east from Cape Keppel, and endeavour to take us some 
turtle ; for there were no signs of inhabitants upon it, and turtle 
seemed to be plentiful in this neighbourhood. He was also to ascend 
the hills, and take bearings of any island or other object visible in 
the offing ; and after making such remarks as circumstances might 
allow, to return not later than the third evening. 
Thurs. 12. Next afternoon, I went, accompanied by the naturalist, to 

examine the eastern arm of the bay, which is divided into two branches. 
Pursuing the easternmost and largest, with soundings from 6 to 3 
fathoms, we came to several mangrove islands, about four miles up, 
where the stream changed its direction from S. S. E. to E. S. E., and 
the deepest water was 2 fathoms. A little further on we landed for 
the night, cutting a path through the mangroves to a higher part of 
the northern shore ; but the swarms of musketoes and sand flies 
made sleeping impossible to all except one of the boat's crew, who 
was so enviably constituted, that these insects either did not attack 
him, or could not penetrate his skin. It was high water here at nine 
o'clock ; and the tide afterwards fell between ten and twelve feet. 
Friday is. In the morning, I set Broad Mount in Keppel Bay at N. 6i m 

so' W. and Mount Larcom S. $* so 7 E. ; and we then steered on- 
ward in six to eight feet water, amongst various little islands of mud 
and mangroves; the whole width of the stream being still more than 
half a mile, nearly the same as at the entrance. Three miles above 
the sleeping place the water began to increase in breadth, and was 
2 fathoms deep ; and advancing further, it took a direction more 
southward, and to our very agreeable surprise, brought us to the 
head of Port Curtis ; forming thus a channel of communication from 

Digitized by 


Keppel Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 25 

Keppel Bay, and cutting off Cape Capricorn with a piece of land 1902. 
twenty-five miles in length, from the continent. swa^ 8 !*. 

I landed on the eastern shore, nearly opposite to the reddish 
cliffs which had been my uppermost station from Port Curtis, and set 
Broad Mount in Keppel Bay at - N. 6o° 45' W. 

Mount Larcom, - - - S. 16 15 W. 

Having found one communication, we rowed up the western branch 
near the reddish cliffs, hoping to get back to Keppel Bay by a se- 
cond new passage ; but after going two miles, with a diminishing 
depth from 4 fathoms to three feet, we were stopped by mangroves, 
and obliged to return to the main stream. 

The tide was half ebbed when we came to the shallowest part 
of the communicating channel ; and it was with much difficulty that 
the boat could be got over. A space here of about two miles in 
length, appears to be dry, or very nearly so, at low water ; but it is 
possible that some small channel may exist amongst the mangroves, 
of sufficient depth for a boat to pass at all times of tide. 

We reached the entrance of the eastern arm from Keppel Bay, 
with the last of the ebb ; and took the flood to go up the southern 
branch. The depth of water was generally 3 fathoms, on the 
eastern side, and the width nearly half a mile. This continued three 
miles up, when a division took place ; in the smallest, which ran 
southward, we got one mile, and up the other, leading south-west- 
ward, two miles ; when both were found to terminate in shallows 
amongst the mangroves. It was then dusk ; and there being no 
possibility of landing, the boat was made fast to a mangrove bush till 
high water, and with the returning ebb, we got on board the ship 
at eleven o'clock. 

The Lady Nelson had returned from the hummocky island, 
without taking any turtle. No good anchorage was found, nor was 
there either wood or water upon the island, worth the attention of 
a ship. Mr. Murray ascended the highest of the hummocks with a 
compass, but did not see any lands in the offing further out than the 
Keppel Isles. 

vol. 11. E 

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26 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

I**- I left the ship again in the morning, and went up the southern 

Saturday 14. arm to a little hill on its western shore ; hoping to gain from 
thence a better knowledge of the various streams which intersect 
the low land on the south side of the bay. This arm is one mile 
in width, and the depth in it from 3 to 6 fathoms; the shores 
are flat, as in other parts, and covered with mangroves ; but at high 
- water a landing was effected under the South Hill, without much 
trouble. The sides of this little eminence are steep, and were 
so thickly covered with trees and shrubs, bound together and inter- 
twisted with strong vines, that our attempts to reach the top were 
fruitless. It would perhaps have been easier to climb up the trees, 
and scramble from one to another upon the vines, than to have pene- 
trated through the intricate net work in the darkness underneath. 

Disappointed in my principal object, and unable to do any thing 
in the boat, which could not then approach the shore within two hun- 
dred yards, I sought to walk upwards, and ascertain the communi- 
cation between the south and south-west arms; but after much 
fatigue amongst th& mangroves and muddy swamps, very little more 
information could be gained. The small fish which leaps on land 
upon two strong breast fins, and was first seen by captain Cook on 
the shores of Thirsty Sound, was very common in the swamps round 
the South Hill, There were also numbers of a small kind of red 
crab, having one of its claws uncommonly large, being, indeed, nearly 
as big as the body ; and this it keeps erected and open, so long as 
there is any expectation of disturbance. It was curious to see a file 
of these pugnacious little animals raise their claws at our approach, 
and open their pincers ready for an attack ; and afterwards, finding 
there was no molestation, shoulder their arms and march on. 

At nine in the evening, the tide brought the boat under the hill, 
and allowed us to return to the ship. All the examination of Keppel 
Bay which our time could allow, was now done ; but a day being 
required for laying down the plan of the different arms, I offered 
Sunday is. a boat on Sunday morning to the botanists, to visit the South Hill, 
which afforded a variety of plants ; but they found little that had 

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Keppel Bay.} TERRA AUSTR^LIS. 2T 

hot before fallen under their observation. A part of the ship's com*- isoa. 
pany was allowed to go on shore abreast of the ship, for no Indians s^ 1 ^ 8 ^ 
had hitherto been seen there; but towards the evening, about twenty 
were observed in company with a party of the sailors. They had 
been met with near Cape Keppel, and at first menaced our people 
with their spears ; but finding them inclined to be friendly, laid aside 
their arms, and accompanied the sailors to the ship in a good-natured , 
manner. A master's mate and a seaman were, however, missing, and 
nothing was heard of them all night. 

At daylight, two guns were fired and an officer was sent up Monday ie. 
the small inlet under Sea Hill ; whilst I took a boat round to Cape 
Keppel, in the double view of searching for the absentees and obtain- 
ing a set of bearings from the top of the cape. This station afforded 
me a better view of the Keppel Isles than any former one ; and to the 
northward of them were two high peaks on the main land, nearly as 
far distant as Cape Manifold. 

Amongst the number of bearings taken, those most essential 
to the connection of the survey were as under. 

Cape Capricorn, outer hummock, 

Mount Larcom, - 

The ship at anchor, - 

Highest peak near Cape Manifold, 

Keppel Isles, outermost, called first lump, 

Hummocky Island, - - N. 54 35' to 61 40 E. 

On my return to the ship, the master's mate and seaman were 
on board. The officer had very incautiously strayed away from his 
party, after natives had been seen ; and at sunset, when he should 
have been at the beach, heand the man he had taken with him were 
entangled in a muddy swamp amongst mangroves, several miles 
distant ; in which uncomfortable situation, and persecuted by clouds 
of musketoes, they passed the night. Next morning they got out of 
the swamp ; but fell in with about twenty-five Indians, who sur- 
rounded and took them to a fire place. A couple of ducks were . 










59 5o 









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28 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

ins. broiled; and after the wanderers had satisfied their hunger, and 
MonSy i«. undergone a personal examination, they were conducted back to the * 
ship in safety. Some of the gentlemen went to meet the natives 
with presents, and an interview took place, highly satisfactory to both 
parties ; the Indians then returned to the woods, and our people were 
brought on board. 
Tuesday 17. The anchor was weighed at daylight of the 17th, but the wind 

and tide being unfavourable, it took the whole day to get into the 
offing; at dusk we came to, in 9 fathoms, mud and sand, having the 
centre of the hummocky island bearing S. 7« # E. two leagues. A 

(Atlas, sketch of the island and of Cape Keppel was taken by Mr. Westall 

*vw 5? L whiIst beatin s out of the ba y- 

Keppel Bay was discovered and named by captain Cook, who 
sailed past it in 1770. A ship going in will be much deceived by 
the colour of the water ; for the shores of the bay being soft and 
muddy, the water running out by the deep channels with the latter 
part of the ebb, is thick ; whilst the more shallow parts, over which 
the tide does not then set, are covered with sea water, which is 
clear. Not only are the shores for the most part muddy, but a large 
portion of the bay itself is occupied by shoals of mud and sand. The 
deep water is in the channels made by the tides, setting in and out of 
the different arms ; and the best information I can give of them, 
will be found by referring to the plan. The broadest of these chan- 
nels is about two miles wide, on the east side of the bay ; and our 
anchorage there near Sea Hill, just within the entrance, seems to be 
the best for a ship purposing to make but a short stay. Wood is 
easily procured; and fresh water was found in small ponds and 
* swamps, at a little distance behind the beach. This is also the best, 
if not the sole place in the bay for hauling the seine ; and a fresh 
meal of good fish was there several times procured for all the ship's 

The country round Keppel Bay mostly consists either of stony 
hills, or of very low land covered with salt swamps and mangroves. 

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Keppel Bay ^ TERRA AUSTRALIA 29 

Almost all the borders of the bay, ahd of the several arms into isoz. 
which it branches, are of this latter description ; so that there are Au s uit# 
few places where it was not necessary to wade some distance in soft 
mud, and afterwards to cut through a barrier of mangroves, before 
reaching the solid land. 

Mention has been made of the ridge of hills by which the 
low land on the south side of the bay is bounded. The upper parts 
of it are steep and rocky, and may be a thousand, or perhaps fifteen 
hundred feet high, but the lower sloping sides are covered with 
wood ; Mount Larcom and the hills within the ridge, are clothed 
with trees nearly to the top ; yet the aspect of the whole is sterile. 
The high land near the western arm, though stony and shallow in 
soil, is covered with grass, and trees of moderate growth ; but the 
best part of the country was that near Cape Keppel; hill and valley 
are there well proportioned, the grass is of a better kind and more 
abundant, the trees are thinly scattered, and there is very little 
underwood. The lowest parts are not mangrove swamps, as else- 
where, but pleasant looking vallies, at the bottom of which are ponds 
of fresh water frequented by flocks of ducks. Cattle would find 
here a tolerable abundance of nutritive food, though the soil may 
perhaps be no where sufficiently deep and good to afford a pro- 
ductive return to the husbandman. 

After the mangrove, the most common trees round Keppel 
Bay are different kinds of eucalyptus, fit for the ordinary purposes of 
building. A species of Cycas, described by captain Cook ( Hawkes- 
worth, III. 220, 221) as a third kind of palm found by him on this 
coast, and bearing poisonous nuts, was not scarce in the neighbours- 
hood of West-arm Hill. We found three kinds of stone here : a 
greyish slate, quartz and various granitic combinations, and a soft, 
whitish stone, saponaceous to the touch ; the two first were often 
found intermixed, and the last generally, if not always lying above 
them. The quartz was of various colours, and sometimes pure ; but 
never in a state of crystallisation. 

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30 A VOYAGE TO ^East Cod*t. 

1802; Wherever we landed there had been Indians ; but it was near 


the ship only, that any of them made their appearance. They were 
described by the gentlemen who saw them, as stout, muscular men, 
who seemed to understand bartering better than most, or perhaps 
any people we had hitherto seen in this country. Upon the outer 
bone of the wrist they had the same hard tumour as the people of 
Hervey's Bay, and the cause of it was attempted, ineffectually, to be 
explained to one of the gentlemen ; but as cast nets were seen in 
the neighbourhood, there seems little doubt that the manner of 
throwing them produces the tumours. These people were not 
devoid of curiosity ; but several things which might have been sup- 
posed most likely to excite it, passed without notice. Of their dis- 
positions we had every reason to speak highly, from their conduct 
to our sailors; but particularly to the master's mate and seaman 
who had lost themselves, and were absolutely in their power. On 
the morning we quitted the bay, a large party was again seen, com- 
ing down to the usual place ; which seemed to imply that our conduct 
and presents had conciliated their good will, and that they would 
be glad to have communication with another vessel. 

It is scarcely necessary to say, that these people are almost 
black, and go entirely naked, since none of any other colour, or 
regularly wearing clothes, have been seen in any part of Terra 
Australis. About their fire places were usually scattered the shells 
of large crabs, the bones of turtle, and the remains of a parsnip-like 
root, apparently of fern ; and once the bones of a porpoise were found ; 
besides these, they doubtless procure fish, and wild ducks were seen 
in their posession. There are kanguroos in the woods, and several 
bustards were seen near Cape Keppel. The mud banks are fre- 
quented by curlews, gulls, and some lesser birds. Oysters of a 
small, crumply kind, are tolerably plentiful ; they do not adhere to 
the rocks, but stick to each other in large masses on the banks; 
here are also pearl oysters, but not so abundantly as in Port Curtis. 

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Keppel Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 31 

The latitude of our anchorage, from the 1802. 

mean of three meridian altitudes to the 
north, was - 23° %g' 34" south. 

Longitude from twenty-four sets of dis- 
tances of the sun and moon, the particu- 
lars of which are given in Table I. of Ap- 
pendix No. I. to this volume, 151 o' 28" ; 
but from fifty other sets, reduced by the 
survey from Broad Sound, the better 
longitude of the anchorage is - 150 58 so east. 

According to the time keepers the longitude would be 150* 5? 43"; 
and in an interval of six days, they were found to err no more than 
5" of longitude on the Port- Jackson rates. 

From three compasses on the binnacle, 
lieutenant Flinders observed the variation 
6° 48', when the ship's head was north, 
and 5 47' when it was south-south-east. 
This last being reduced to the meridian, 
the mean of both will be - 6 47 east, 

nearly the same as in Bustard Bay ; but «• less than was observed 
off Gatcombe Head. At the different stations round Keppel Bay 
whence bearings were iaken, the variation differed from 5 io # to 
6° 30' east. 

Whilst beating off the entrance, I had J°5*' 
east variation, from azimuths with the 
surveying compass when the head was 
N. W., and from an amplitude, with the 
head N. by W., 6° 54'; the mean reduced 
to the meridian, will be for the outside 
of the bay - - - 6 16 east. 

Captain Cook had 7 24' near the same situation, from amplitudes 
and azimuths observed in 1 770, with the Endeavour's head W.N. W. 
The rise of tide in the entrance of Keppel Bay seems to vary 

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82 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. at the neaps and springs, from nine to fourteen feet, and high water 
August. to ta k e pj ace n j ne } umrs an j a foij a f ter the moon's passage over and 

under the meridian ; but the morning's tide fell two or three feet 
short of that at night. The set past the ship was greatest at the 
last quarter of the flood and first of the ebb, when it ran two-and- 
half knots, and turned very suddenly. In the offing, the flood came 
from the eastward, at the rate of one mile per hour. 

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■ pqgg 

FVom Keppel Bay.} TERRA AUSTRALIS. 33 


The Keppel Isles, and coast to Cape Manifold. A new port discovered 
and examined. Harvey's Isles. A new passage into Shoal-water 
Bay. View from Mount Westall. A boat lost. The upper parts of 
Shoal-water Bay examined. Some account of the country and inhabi- 
tants. General remarks on the bay. Astronomical and nautical 

1 he rocks and islands lying off Keppel Bay to the northward, are 1802. 
numerous and scattered without order ; two of them are of greater "^ * 
magnitude than the rest, and captain Cook had attempted to pass 
between these and the main land, from which they are distant about 
five miles ; but shoal water obliged him to desist. When we got 
under way in the morning of the 18th, our course was directed for the Wednes. is. 
outside of these two islands, and we passed within a mile of them in 
9, and from that to 13 fathoms water. They are five miles asunder, 
and the southernmost and largest is near twelve in circumference ; 
its rocky hills are partly covered with grass and wood, and the 
gullies down the sides, as also the natives seen upon the island, 
implied that fresh water was to be had there. 

At the back of the islands the main coast is low and sandy, 
with the exception of two or three rocky heads ; but at a few miles 
inland there is a chain of hills, moderately elevated and not ill 
clothed with wood. These hills are a continuation of the same 
which I had ascended on the west side of Keppel Bay, and extend 
as far as the two peaks behind Cape Manifold. 

After passing the Keppel Isles we steered for a small opening 
in the coast, seven or eight miles to the north-west, and the Lady 
Nelson was directed to lead in ; but on her making the signal for 3 
vol. 11. F 

Digitized by 


84 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

isas. fathoms, and the inlet appearing to be a sandy cove fit only for 
Wednes. is. boats, we kept on northward, between one and two miles from the 
shore. At five o'clock, the south-east breeze died away, and a 
descent of the mercury announcing either little wind for the night 
or a breeze off the land, a kedge anchor was dropped in 8 fathoms, 
sandy bottom. The bearings then taken were, 

Keppel Isles, the first lump, S. 4£tr£. 

C. Manifold, east end of the island near it, - N. 9 E. 

Peaked islet in the offing, N. 283- E. 

Flat islet, distant four or five leagues, - N. 43 E. 
The two last are called the Brothers, in captain Cook's chart; 
though described in the voyage as being, one " low and flat, and 
" the other high and round." A perforation in the higher islet admits 
the light entirely through it, and is distinguishable when it bears 
nearly south-east. 
Thurs. 19. At seven next morning, having then a light air from the land 

with foggy weather, we steered northward along the coast ; and at 
noon were in latitude 22 47^', and two rocks near the shore bore 
S. 54* W. two or three miles. From that time until evening, we 
worked to windward against a breeze from the north-east, which 
afterwards veered to N. N. W. ; and at nine o'clock, a small anchor 
was dropped in 14 fathoms, two miles from the shore. The Lady 
Nelson had fallen to leeward ; and made no answer to our signals 
during the night. 
Wday 20. At daylight, supposing the brig had passed us by means of a 

shift of wind to W.N. W., we proceeded along the coast to the 
(Atlas, island lying off Cape Manifold. /This island, with some of the 
^ksw 6 1 ) 1 ' nort hern hills, had been sketched by Mr. Westall on the preceding 
evening ; it is slightly covered with vegetation, and lies in latitude 
2»* 42', and longitude 150 50'. The cape is formed of several 
rocky heads and intermediate beaches ; and the hills behind, from 
which the cape was named, rise one over the other to the two peaks 
set from Cape Keppel, and appeared to be rocky and barren. The 

Digitized by 


Cape Manifold.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 86 

easternmost, and somewhat the highest peak, is about four miles 1802. 
from the shore, and lies S. 49 W. from the east end of the island lu^sb. 
whose situation is above given. 

The wind was from the northward at noon, and we were then 
making a stretch for the land, which was distant four or five miles. 

Latitude, observed to the north, - - 34° $6±' 

C. Manifold, east end of the island, - S. 1 W. 

— — — the highest peak, - S. $o± W. 

Small isle (Entrance I.) at the northern extreme, N. 29 W. 

Peaked islet in the offing, distant 7 miles, - S. 61 E. 

From Cape Manifold the coast falls back to a sandy beach, six 
miles long, and near it are some scattered rocks. The land is there 
very low ; but at the north end of the beach is a hilly projection, 
from which we tacked at one o'clock, in 12 fathoms; being then 
within a mile of two rocks, and two miles from the main land. The 
brig was seen to the south-eastward, and we made a long stretch 
off, to give her an opportunity of joining, and at two in the morning Saturday 21. 
lay by for her; but the wind veering to south-west at five, we 
stretched in for the land, arid approached some rocky islets, part 
of the Harvey's Isles of captain Cook, of which, and of the main (Atlas, 
coast as far as Island Head, Mr. Westall made a sketch. At half ^^r!) 4 
past nine, when we tacked from Harvey's Isles, I was surprised 
to see trees upon them resembling the pines of Norfolk Island; none 
such having been before noticed upon this coast, nor to my know- 
ledge, upon any coast of Terra Australis. Pines were also distin- 
guished upon a more southern islet, four miles off, the same which 
had been the northern extreme at the preceding noon ; and behind 
it was a deep bight in the land where there seemed to be shelter. 
The breeze had then shifted to south, and the Lady Nelson being to 
windward, the signal was made for her to look for anchorage ; but 
the brig being very leewardly, we passed her and stood into the 
bight by an opening between the islets of one mile wide and from 

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86 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802, 10 to 7 fathoms in depth. On the soundings decreasing to 5, we 
Satwdayii. tacked and came to an anchor near the pine island in the entrance, 
in 7 fathoms coarse sand, exposed between N. 75° and S. 23 E., and 
the wind was then at south-east ; but having a fair passage by which 
we could run out to the northward, in case of necessity, I did not ap- 
prehend any danger to the vessels. 

Instead of a bight in the coast, we found this to be a port of 
some extent; which had not only escaped the observation of captain 
Cook, but from the shift of wind, was very near being missed by us 
also. I named it Port Bowen, in compliment to captain James 
Bowen of the navy ; and to the hilly projection on the south side of 
p/xvnn t ^ ie entrance ( see *^ e sketch), I gave the appellation of Cape Clinton, 
view 8. after colonel Clinton of the 85th, who commanded the land, as captain 
Bowen did the sea forces at Madeira, when we stopped at that island. 

A boat was despatched with the scientific gentlemen to the 
north side, where the hills rise abruptly and have a romantic appear- 
ance ; another went to the same place to haul the seine at a small 
beach in front of a gully between the hills, where there was a pro- 
spect of obtaining fresh water; and a third boat was sent to Entrance 
Island with the carpenters to cut pine logs for various purposes, but 
principally to make a main sliding keel for the Lady Nelson. Our 
little consort sailed indifferently at the best; but since the main keel 
had been carried away at Facing Island, it was unsafe to trust her on 
a lee shore, even in moderate weather. On landing at Entrance 
Island, to take angles and inspect the form of the port, I saw an arm 
extending behind Cape Clinton to the southward, which had the 
appearance of a river; a still broader arm ran westward, until it 
was lost behind the land; and between Entrance Island and Cape 
Clinton was a space three miles wide, where nothing appeared to 
obstruct the free passage of a ship into both arms. Finding the 
port to be worthy of examination, and learning that the seine had 
been successful and that good water was to be procured, I left orders 

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with lieutenant Fowler to employ the people in getting off pine logs !**• 
and watering the ship ; and early next morning, set offin my whale Sunday ss# 
boat upon an excursion round the port. 

From the ship to the inner part of Cape Clinton the soundings 
were from 5 to 8 fathoms, on a sandy bottom ; but close to the 
innermost point there was no ground at 10 fathoms. From thence 
I steered up the western arm, passing to the south of a central rock 
lying a mile out ; and got with difficulty to the projection named 
West-water Head. The arm terminated a little further on ; but to the 
northward, over the land, I saw a long shallow bay at the back of 
Island Head, and beyond it was the sea. This western arm being 
full of sandy shoals, and of no utility, if at all accessible to ships, I 
observed the latitude and took angles, and then returned to the 
inner part of Cape Clinton. In rowing to the southward, close along 
the inside of the cape, we had from 3 to 9 fathoms water ; but it was 
too late in the evening to make an examination of the southern arm, 
and I therefore ascended a hill near the shore, to inspect it. This 
was called East-water Hill, and I saw from its top, that the southern 
arm extended S. i(P W. about seven miles, to the foot of the 
hills behind Cape Manifold, where it terminated in shallows and 
mangroves. Close under East- water Hill there was a small 
branch running eastward, nearly insulating Cape Clinton ; but 
neither this branch nor the main arm seemed to be deep enough 
to admit a ship much higher than the cape \ and in consequence, I 
gave up the further examination, and returned on board at seven 

Amongst the useful bearings for the survey, taken at East- 
water Hill, were the following : 

Entrance Island, centre, - N. 9° 45' E. 

Peaked Islet in the offing, - S. 58 45 E. 

Cape Manifold, east end of the island, - S. 29 40 E. 

■ highest of the two peaks, S. 3 aoW. 

By means of this last bearing, the longitude of Port Bowen was 

Digitized by 


38 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. connected with Keppel Bay and Port Curtis, independently of the 
Sunday 22. timekeepers. 

A fresh wind from the south-eastward had blown all day, 

and raised so much surf on the north side of the port, that our water- 

* ing there was much impeded ; a midshipman and party of men 

remained on shore with casks all night, and it was not until next 

Monday^, evening that the holds were completed and pine logs got on board. 

The water was very good ; it drained down the gully to a little beach 

between two projecting heads which have rocky islets lying off them. 

The gully is on the west side of the northern entrance, and will 

easily be known, since we sent there on first coming to an anchor, 

n ( xvTii ) in the ex P ectation °f finding water, but Mr. Westall's sketch will 

view 9.) obviate any difficulty. 

There were pine trees in the watering gully andon the neigh- 
bouring hills ; but the best, and also the most convenient, were 
those upon Entrance Island, some of them being fit to make 
top masts for ships. The branches are very brittle ; but the car- 
penter thought the trunks to be tough, and superior to the Norway 
pine, both for spars and planks : turpentine exudes from between 
the wood and the bark, in considerable quantities. 

For a ship wanting to take in water and pine logs, the most 
convenient place is under Entrance Island, where we lay in the 
Investigator ; indeed fresh water was not found in any other place ; 
but this anchorage is not tenable against a strong south-east wind. 
At the entrance of the southern arm, just within Cape Clinton, a ship 
may lie at all times in perfect safety ; and might either be laid on 
shore or be hove down, there being 3 fathoms close to the rocks, at 
each end of the beach ; it is moreover probable, that fresh water 
might be there found, or be procured by digging at the foot of the 
hills. In the southern arm the bottom is muddy ; but it is of sand 
in other parts of the port. 

Of the country round Port Bowen not much can be said in 
praise ; it is in general either sandy or stony, and unfit for cultivation ; 

Digitized by 









x . 





Digitized by 


Digitized by 



Part Bowen.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 38 

nevertheless, besides pines, there are trees, principally eucalyptus, of isos. 
moderate size, and the vallies of Cape Clinton are overspread with a Monday 28. 
tolerably good grass. No inhabitants were seen, but in every part where 
I landed , fires had been made, and the woods of Cape Clinton were then 
burning ; the natives had also been upon Entrance Island, which im- 
plied them to have canoes, although none were seen. There are kan- 
guroos in the woods ; hawks, and the bald-headed mocking bird of 
Port Jackson are common ; and ducks, sea-pies, and gulls frequent 
the shoals at low water. Fish were more abundant here than in any 
port before visited ; those taken in the seine at the watering beach 
were principally mullet, but sharks and flying fish were numerous. 
The latitude of the north-west end of Entrance 
Island, from' an observation taken by lieu- 
tenant Flinders in an artificial horizon, is s«* »8' 28" south 
Longitude from twelve sets of lunar distances 
by the same officer, 150 47' 54" ; and by 
the time keepers, 1 50 45' 36" ; but from the 
fifty sets which fix Broad Sound, and the 
reduction from thence by survey, the more 
correct situaton will be - - 150 45 o east 

Dip of the south end of the needle, - 50 20 
Variation from azimuths with the tneodolite, 7 40 east; 
but on the top of the island, where my bearings were taken, the 
variation appeared to be 8° 30' east ; and 8? in other parts of the port. 
The time of high water, as near as it could be ascertained, 
was ten hours after the moon's passage over and under the meridian, 
being half an hour later than in Keppel Bay ; and the tide rises more 
than nine feet; but how much was not known ; it is however to be 
presumed, from what was observed to the south and to the north of 
Port Bowen, that the spring tides do not rise less than fifteen feet. 

At daylight of the 94th, we steered out of Port Bowen by the Tuesday 24/ 
northern passage, as we had gone in. The wind was from the west- 
ward ; but so light, that when the ebb tide made from the north-west 
at ten o'clock, it was necessary to drop the kedge anchor for a time. 

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40 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast. 

lew. in the evening we came to, in 10 fathoms fine grey sand, one mile 
Tuesday «4. and a half from the main ; being sheltered between N. E. by E. and 
E. by S. by the same cluster of small isles upon which the pine trees 
Wednes. 25. had been first seen. In the morning we worked onward along the 
coast, against a breeze at north-west, till ten o'clock ; when the tide 
being unfavourable, an anchor was dropped in 15 fathoms, sand 
and shells, near three islets, of which the middlemost and highest 
bore S. 29 E., one mile : these were also a part, and the most north- 
ern of Harvey's Isles. 

A boat was lowered down, and I landed with the botanical 
gentlemen on the middle islet ; where we found grass and a few 
shrubs, and also ants, grasshoppers, and lizards. Upon the rocks 
were oysters of the small, crumply kind, which seemed to indicate 
that the sea here is not violently agitated ; and in the water we saw 
several large turtle, but were not able to harpoon any of them. 
Several of the Northumberland Isles were in sight from the top of 
the islet, and the following observations were taken. 

Latitude, observed in artificial horizon, - 22* 20' 42" 
Longitude, deduced from survey, - - 150 42 
Peaked Islet in the offing bore - - S. 35 35 E. 
Island Head, distant 3 miles, - - S. 82 45 W. 

Cape Townshend, the rock near it, - N. 57 45 W. 
Northumberland Isle, the 4th, a peak, - N. 43 30 W. 
When the tide slacked in the afternoon we stretched over to- 
wards Island Head, and saw a canoe with two Indians, who made for 
the shore near a place where the woods were on fire. At dusk we 
anchored in 18 fathoms, soft mud, in a bight between Island Head 
and Cape Townshend, at the bottom of which was an opening one 
mile wide, where captain Cook had suspected an entrance into Shoal- 
water Bay. The Lady Nelson had fallen to leeward, as usual ; and 
Thure. 26. not being come up in the morning, the master was sent a-head of 
the ship in a boat, and we steered for the opening with a strong 
flood tide in our favour. From 22 fathoms, the water shoaled to 12, 
and suddenly to 3, on a rocky bottom, just as we reached the 

Digitized by V^jOOQIC 

Strong-tide Passage.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 41 

entrance. A kedge anchor was dropped immediately ; but seeing that isoa. 
the opening went through, and that the master had deep water further Thuw. ss. 
in, it was weighed again, and we backed and filled the sails, drift- 
ing up with the tide so long as it continued to run. At nine o'clock 
the anchor was let go in 6 fathoms, sand and shells, one mile within 
the entrance, the points of which bore N. 34 and S, 89 E. ; but the 
extent of deep water was barely sufficient for the ship to swing at 
a whole cable. 

. Lieutenant Flinders landed on the north side of the entrance, (Atlas, 
and observed the latitude 2^° 17' 53" from an artificial horizon ; and te ' 
a boat was sent to haul the seine upon a beach on the eastern shore, 
where fish to give half the ship's company a meal was procured. 
We had no prospect of advancing up the passage until the turn of 
tide, at three in the afternoon ; and I therefore landed with a party 
of the gentlemen, and ascended the highest of the hills on the eastern 
side. From the top of it we could see over the land into Port Bowen ; 
and some water was visible further distant at the back of it, which 
seemed to communicate with Shoal-water Bay. Of the passage 
where the ship was lying, there was an excellent view; and I saw 
not only that Cape Townshend was on a distinct island, but also that 
it was separated from a piece of land to the west, which captain Cook's 
chart had left doubtful. Wishing to follow the apparent intention 
of the discoverer, to do honour to the noble family of Townshend, 
I have extended the name of the cape to the larger island, and dis- 
tinguish the western piece by the name of Leicester Island. Besides 
these, there were many smaller isles scattered in the entrance of 
Shoal-water Bay; and the southernmost of them, named Akcn's 
Island after the master of the ship, lies in a bight of the western 
shore. Out at sea there were more of the Northumberland Islands, 
further westward than those before seen, the largest being not less 
distant than fifteen leagues ; Pier Head, on the west side of Thirsty 
Sound, was also visible ; and in the opposite direction was the highest 
of the two peaks behind Cape Manifold, the bearing of which con* 
VOL. 11. G 

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42 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast. 

1802. nected this station with Port Curtis and Keppel Bay. The view was, 

August, . 

Thuw. 26. indeed, most extensive from this hill ; and in compliment to the 
landscape painter, who made a drawing from thence of Shoal-water 
Bay and the islands, I named it Mount Westall* The bearings most 
essential to the connection of the survey, were these ; 

Pier Head, the northern extreme, - N. 6a° 40' W. 

Aken's Island in Shoal-water Bay, - N. 86 55 W. 

Pine Mount, on its west side, - - S. 80 40 W. 

Double Mount, - - - - S. 56 35 W. 

Cape Manifold, highest peak behind it, - S. 20 10 E. 

West- water Head in Port Bowen, - - S. 30 25 JE. 

Northern Harvey's Isles, last station, - N. 81 20 E. 

Cape Townshend, north-east extreme, N. 20 25 W. 

Northumberland Isles, the 4th, a peak, N. 26 25 W. 
Mount Westall and the surrounding hills are stony, and of 
steep ascent ; pines grow in the gullies, and some fresh water was 
found there, standing in holes. The lower hills are covered with 
grass and trees, as is also the low land, though the soil be shallow 
and sandy; the wood is mostly eucalyptus. No natives were seen 
during our walk, and only one kanguroo. 

At dusk in the evening, when we returned on board, I found 
the Lady Nelson at anchor near us, and two boats absent from 
the ship. In hauling them up to be hoisted in, the cutter had 
been upset from the rapidity of the tides, which ran above four 
knots, the man in her was thrown out, and the boat went adrift. The 
man was taken up by the Lady Nelson ; but the boatswain, who 
with two men in a small gig had gone after the cutter, was not 
Friday 27. heard of till next morning, when he returned without any intelli- 
gence of his object, having been bewildered in the dark by the rapid 
tides in a strange place, and in danger of losing himself. 

On weighing the kedge anchor to go further up the passage, 

* A painting was made of this view, and is now in the Admiralty ; but it has not been 
engraved for the voyage. 

Digitized by 


Strong-tide Passage.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 48 

it came up broken near the crown, having in all probability hooked 1*02* 
a rock. The Lady Nelson went one mile a-head, a boat was kept Friday 2V. 
sounding close to the ship, and in this manner we drifted up with 
the flood tide, till half past eight ; when another kedge anchor was 
dropped in 7 fathoms, a short mile from the land on each side, and 
two from the inner end of the opening. lieutenant Fowler was 
immediately sent away in the whale boat, to search for the lost 
cutter ; and in the mean time we weighed with the afternoon's flood, 
to get through the passage. On approaching a low, triangular island 
on the eastern shore, the depth diminished quick, and an anchor was 
let go ; but in swinging to it, the ship caught upon a bank of sand 
and shells where there was no more than twelve feet water. In half 
an hour the tide floated her off; and the whale boat having returned, 
but without 'any information of the cutter, it was kept a-head ; and 
before dark we anchored in 5 fathoms, at the entrance of Shoal- 
water Bay. 

The opening through which we had come was named Strong- 
tide Passage. It is six miles long, and from one to two broad ; but 
half the width is taken up by shoals and rocks, which extend out 
from each shore and sometimes lie near the mid-channel ; and the 
rapid tides scarcely leave to a ship the choice of her course. The 
bottom is rocky in the outer entrance, but in the upper part seems 
more generally to consist of sand and shells. By the swinging of 
the ship, it was high water ten hours after the moon's passage, and 
the rise was thirteen feet by the lead ; but at the top of the springs 
it is probably two or three feet greater ; and the rate at which the 
tides then run, will not be less than five miles an hour. It will be 
perceived, that I do not recommend any ship to enter Shoal-water 
Bay by this passage. 

In the morning, I went in the whale boat to the westward, Saturday 28. 
both to search for the lost cutter and to advance the survey. In 
crossing the inner end of Strong-tide Passage, my soundings were 
S> 4> 3> 2 j> 2 > 3 fathoms, to a rock near the south end of Townshend 

Digitized by 


44 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. Island, whence it appeared that the deepest water was close to the 
Setwdayss. shoals on the eastern side. After searching along the shore of 
Townshend Island, and amongst the rocky islets near it, I crossed 
the western channel over to the south end of Leicester Island; where 
a set of bearings was taken, and the latitude observed to be 2a 18' 
17" from an artificial horizon. This channel is about one mile wide, 
and I proceeded up it until a passage out to sea was clearly distin- 
guishable ; but although there be from 4 to 7 fathoms with a soft 
bottom, the deep part is too narrow for a stranger to pass with a ship. 
I returned on board in the evening, without having discovered any 
traces of the lost cutter or seen any thing worthy of particular 
notice ; unless it were three of the large bats, called flying foxes at 
Port Jackson : when on the wing and at a distance, these animals 
might be taken for crows. 
Sunday 29. On the following morning, we got up the anchor and steered 

further into Shoal- water Bay. The land on the western side appeared 
to be high ; and as the botahists were likely to find more employ- 
ment there, during the time of my proposed expedition to the head 
of the bay, than they could promise themselves at any other place, 
I was desirous of leaving the ship on that side, in a situation conve- 
nient for them. After running three miles to the westward, mostly 
in 3 fathoms, we anchored in 6, till four o'clock, and then again 
weighed. The soundings became very irregular ; and at five, seeing 
a shoal which extended up and down the middle of the bay, we 
tacked from it and came to, in 5 fathoms soft bottom, it being then 
low water. 

Mount Westall bore - - - N. 86° E. 

Leicester Island, the south end, - N. 9 W. 

Pine Mount, - - - - S. 78 W. 

The western land was still six or seven miles distant, but there was 
no prospect of getting nearer, without taking time to make a previous 
examination of the shoal; and I therefore embarked early next 

Digitized by 


Shoal-water Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 45 

morning on board the brig, and proceeded towards the head of iooi. 

., -, August, 

the Bay. Monday so. 

Steering south-eastward, in a slanting course up the bay from 
the middle shoal, we had from 5 to 8 fathoms ; and passed a shal- 
low opening in the eastern low shore, four miles above Strong- 
tide Passage. Three miles higher up there was another opening, near, 
two miles in width ; and the wind being then light and foul, I quitted 
the brig and proceeded three miles up in my boat, when the arm 
was found to be divided into two branches. Pursuing that which led 
eastward in a line for Port Bowen, and was three-quarters of a mile 
wide, I carried a diminishing depth, from 6 fathoms to six feet, 
above two miles further ; and the branch then terminated at the foot 
of a ridge of hills. I wished much to ascend this ridge, believing 
that West-water Head in Port Bowen, lay close at the back ; but the 
shore was so defended by mud flats and interwoven mangroves, 
that it was impossible to land. 

The other branch of the eastern arm led south-eastward, and 
was a mile wide, with a depth of 6 fathoms as far as two miles above 
the division ; it then separated into three, but the entrances were shal- 
low and the borders every where muddy and covered with man- 
groves. I therefore returned to the brig which had anchored at the 
entrance of the branch ; and in the night, we dropped out of the 
eastern arm with the tide, to be ready for going up the bay with the 
morning's flood. 

On the 31st, in steering for the middle of the bay, the brig Tuesday 31. 
grounded upon a spit which runs out from the south point of en- 
trance to the eastern arm, and I believe extends so far down the bay 
as to join the middle shoal near the ship. The bottom was muddy, 
and the rising tide soon floated her ; but our progress being slow, I 
went onward in the boat and got into a channel of a mile wide, with 
regular soundings from 6 to 4 fathoms. 

Abreast of the eastern arm, the width of the bay had diminished 
to about four miles ; and in advancing upwards, I found it to go on 

Digitized by 


46 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

1802, contracting until, at four miles above the arm, the shores were less 
Tuesday 31. than one mile asunder, and the head of the bay assumed, the form 
of a river, though the water remained quite salt. The depth here was 
from 4 to 6 fathoms ; and the east side of the contracted part being 
a little elevated, I was able to land and take a set of angles to fix its 
position. The width and depth continued nearly the same two miles 
higher up, to a woody islet in the middle of the channel ; where 
the latitude 22 37' 6" was observed from an artificial horizon, and 
more bearings taken. 

A ship may get up as high as this islet, for the channel is no 
where less than half a mile wide, nor the depth in it under 3 
fathoms ; but there the stream divides into several branches, which 
appeared to terminate amongst the mangroves, similar to the branches 
of the eastern arm. The largest runs S. S. E. ; and I could see 
three or four miles up it, near to the foot of the hills behind 
Cape Manifold, where it probably ends, as did the southern arm of 
Port Bowen. 

The islet had been visited by Indians, and several trees 
upon it were notched, similar to what is done by the people of 
Port Jackson when they ascend in pursuit of opossums. Upon the 
main, to the west of the islet, where I walked a mile inland, fire 
places and other signs of inhabitants were numerous, and still more 
so were those of the kanguroo ; yet neither that animal nor an Indian 
was seen. Around the extinguished fires were scattered the bones of 
turtle, and the shells of crabs, periwinkles, and oysters of the small 
kind ; and in the low grounds I observed many holes, made appar- 
ently by the natives in digging for fern roots. An iguana of between 
two and three feet long, which lay upon the branch of a high tree 
watching for its prey, was the sole animal killed ; but the mud banks 
are frequented at low water by sea pies of both kinds, curlews, and 
small cranes. 

The soil was stiff, shallow, and often stony ; the vegetation 
consisted of two or three species of eucalyptus and the casuarina, not 

Digitized by 


ShoaUwater Bay.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 4* 

thickly set nor large,— of several kinds of shrubs, amongst which a 1802. 
small grass-tree was abundant^ — and of grass, with which the rest Tueafly 31. 
of the soil was thinly overspread. 

After making my observations, I rejoined the Lady Nelson 
two miles below the woody islet ; but the wind blowing fresh 
up the bay, and the brig being leewardly , went on and with some 
difficulty landed on the west side, opposite to the entrance of the 
eastern arm. This part is stony ; but equally low with the rest of the 
shores, and is probably an island at high water. A confined set of 
bearings was taken here ; and the sun being then nearly down and 
the brig at anchor, I went on board for the night. Next afternoon, Wednes. 1" 
when the ebb tide enabled the vessel to make progress against the 
strong north-west wind, we beat down in a channel of between one 
and two miles wide, with soundings from 2 to 8 fathoms ; but they 
were not regular, for the depth was less in some parts of the middle 
than at the sides of the channel. The wind moderated in the even- 
ing; and being then within three miles of the ship, I quitted the brig, 
and got on board at sunset. 

One object of my research in this expedition had been the lost 
cutter, and orders had been left with lieutenant Fowler to send again 
into Strong-tide Passage upon the same errand, but all was without 

During my absence, the naturalist and other gentlemen had 
gone over in the launch to the west side of the bay, where they had 
an interview with sixteen natives ; their appearance was described 
as being much inferior to the inhabitants of Keppel and Hervey's 
Bays, but they were peaceable, and seemed to be very hungry. 
They had bark canoes which, though not so well formed, were 
better secured at the ends than those of Port Jackson ; and in them 
were spears neatly pointed with pieces of quartz, for striking turtle. 
The number of bones lying about their fire places bespoke turtle to 
be their principal food ; and with the addition of shell fish, and per- 
haps fern roots, it is probably their sole support. 

Digitized by 


48 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

igml The same muddy flats which rendered landing so difficult in 

WedwL i. tto e u ?P eT P arts of the bay, run off to some distance from the shore 
under Double Mount; and the land is low for two or three miles 
back. The hills then , rise, ridge over ridge to a considerable 
elevation ; and at the top are several hummocks, of which two, 
higher than the rest, obtained for this high land its present name. 
So far as the gentlemen were able to ascend, the hills were found to 
be tolerably well covered with pines and other trees ; and the soil 
of the vallies was better than in those near Mount Westall on the 
opposite side of the bay. 
Thursday 2. Early on the and the brig rejoined ; and the wind being at 

S. byE., we steered across towards Pine Mount, passing over the 
shoal in sixteen feet. In crossing the middle channel, our soundings 
increased to 9, and then diminished to less than 3 fathoms upon a 
second shoal, the width of the channel here being not quite three 
miles. On the west side of the second shoal is another channel, 
nearly as wide as the former ; and the greatest depth in it, reduced 
to low water as usual, was 8 fathoms. The water shoaled again 
suddenly on approaching the west side of the bay, and obliged us to 
veer round off; we then steered to pass within Aken's Island, in- 
tending to anchor in the West Bight behind it ; but the depth not 
being sufficient for the ship at low water, we came to in 4 fathoms, 
muddy bottom, one mile from the shore and two from Aken's Island, 
the east end of which bore N. 27* W. 

Pine Mount is a sipgle round hill with a high peaked top, 
standing about two miles inland from the West Bight; and to obtain 
a set of bearings from it which should cross those from Mount 
Westall, had induced ^ne to anchor here; but finding my health too 
much impaired by fatigue to accomplish a laborious walk, I sent the 
Fridays, launch next morning with the scientific gentlemen, and as an easier 
task, landed upon Aken's Island and took angles from the little 
eminence at its north-east end. 

At every port or bay we entered, more especially after passing 

Digitized by 


Shotd-water Bay.] TERRA AtfSTRALIS. 49 

Cape Capricorn, my first object on landing was to examine the 1802. 
refuse thrown up by the sea. The French navigator, La P£rouse, Ricky 3/ 
whose unfortunate situation, if in existence, was always present to 
my mind, had been wrecked, as it was thought, somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of New Caledonia ; and if so, the remnants of his 
ships were likely to be brought upon this coast by the trade winds, 
and might indicate the situation of the reef or island which had 
proved fatal to him. With such an indication, I was led to believe 
in the possibility of finding the place; and though the hope of 
restoring La P^rouse or any of his companions to their country and 
friends could not, after so many years, be rationally entertained, yet 
to gain some certain knowledge of their fate would do away the 
pain of suspense ; and it might not be too late to retrieve some docu- 
ments of their discoveries. 

Upon the south-east side of Aken's Island, there was thrown 
up a confused mass of different substances ; including a quantity of 
pumice stone, several kinds of coral, five or six species of shells, 
skeletons of fish and sea snakes, the fruit of the pandanus, and a 
piece of cocoa-nut shell without bernacles or any thing to indicate 
that it had been long in the water ; but there were no marks of 
shipwreck. A seine was hauled upon the small beaches at the 
south end of the island, and brought on shore a good quantity of 
mullet, and of a fish resembling a cavally; also a kind of horse 
mackerel, small fish of the herring kind, and once a sword fish of 
between four and five feet long. The projection of the snout, or 
sword of this animal, a foot and a half in length, was fringed with 
strong, sharp teeth ; and he threw it from side to side in such a 
furious way, that it was difficult to manage him even on shore. 

A boat was sent in the evening to the foot of Pine Mount, for 
the naturalist and his party, but returned without any tidings of 
them; and it was noon next day before they got on board. They Saturday 4. 
had reached the top of the mount, but were disappointed in the view 
by the pines and underwood. In returning to the boat, a phase after 
vol. 11. H 

Digitized by 


*> A VOYAGE TO [Ea$t Coast. 

1808, a kanguroo had led one of the gentlemen out of his reckoning; and 
|J^^[' this, with the labour of bringing down their prize, had prevented 
them from reaching the water side that night. Pine Mount is stony, 
but covered with large trees of the kind denoted by its epithet ; the 
country between it and the water side is grassy, bears timber trees, 
and is of a tolerably good soil, such as might be cultivated. There 
are small creeks of salt water in the low land; and in one of them a 
fish was shdt which furnished the party with a dinner. 

Pine Mount is composed of the greenstone of the German 
mineralogists ; but in some other parts of the neighbourhood the 
stone seems to be different, and contains small veins of quartz, 
pieces of which are also scattered over the surface. At Aken's 
Island there was some variety. The most common kind was a 
slate, containing in some places veins of quartz, in a state nearly 
approaching to crystallization, and in others some metallic substance, 
probably iron. The basis of most other parts of the island was 
greenstone ; but in the eastern cliffs there was a soft, whitish earth ; 
and on the north-west side of the island, a part of the shore consisted 
of water-worn grains and small lumps of quartz, of coral, pumice 
stone, and other substances jumbled together, and concreted into a 
solid mass. 

Speaking ki general terms of Shoal-water Bay, I do not con- 
ceive it to offer any advantages to ships which may not be had upon 
almost any other part of the coast; except that the tides rise higher, 
and in the winter season fish are more plentiful than further to the 
south. No fresh water was found, unless at a distance from the 
shore, and then only in small quantities. Pine trees are plentiful ; 
but they grow upon the stony hills at a distance from the water side, 
and cannot be procured with any thing like the facility offered by 
Port Bowen. The chart contains the best information I am able to 
give of the channels leading up the bay, and of the shoals between 
them ; but it may be added, that no alarm need be excited by a ship 
getting aground, for these banks are too soft to do injury. The 

Digitized by 


Shoal-water Bay .] TERRA AUSTRALIS. #1 

shelving flats from the shores are also soft; and with the mangroves, was. 
which spread themselves from high water at the neaps, up in the ^ 
country to the furthest reach of the spring tides, in some places for 
miles, render landing impossible in the upper parts of the bay, ex- 
cept at some few sfcots already noticed. 

Were an English settlement to be made in Shoal-Water Bay, 
the better soil round Pine Mount and the less difficulty in landing 
there, would cause that neighbourhood to be preferred. There is 
not a sufficient depth at low water, for ships to go into the West 
Bight, by the south side of Aken's Island, and the north side was no 
otherwise sounded than in passing ; but there is little doubt that the 
depth on the north side is adequate to admit ships, and that some 
parts of the bight will afford anchorage and good shelter. 

The tides do not run strong in Shoal-water Bay, the rate sel- 
dom exceeding one knot ; but they stir up the soft mud at the bot- 
tom, and make the water thick, as in Keppel Bay. I am not able to 
speak very accurately of the rise in the tide; but it may be reckoned 
at twelve or fourteen feet at the neaps, and from seventeen to eighteen 
at the springs. High water takes place about ten hours and a half 
after the moon's passage ; but on the east side of the bay, the flood 
runs up a full hour later. 

The latitude of the north-east end of Aken's 
Island, froift an observation in the artifi- 
cial horizon, is ««° «i' 35" south. 
Longitude from twelve sets of distances of 
the sun and moon, taken by lieutenant 
Flinders, and reduced to the same place, 
150* 18' 45"; but from the survey, and 
the position afterwards fixed in Broad 
Sound, it is preferably - - 150 15 o east. 
Variation from azimuths taken with a theo- 
dolite at the same place, g° 48'; but the 
bearings 011 the top of the eminence 

Digitized by 


52 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

1802. showed it to be $• o # . The variation on 

# shore, on the west side of the bay, may 

therefore be taken at - - 9 24' east. 

Upon Mount Westall on the east side, and 
at the south end of Leicester Island, it 
was from the bearings - - 8 50 

Upon the small islet at the head of the bay, 9 25 

At our anchorage on the west side of the bay, Mr, Flinders 
took azimuths when the ship's head was S. E. by E., which gave 
6° 31' by one compass ; before he had done, the ship swung to the 
flood tide with her head W. N. W., and two other compasses then 
gave 1 1° «7 # and n # 4' : the mean corrected to the meridian, will be 
8* 46' east. 

At an anchorage towards the east side of the bay, the same 
officer observed the variation with two compasses, when the head 
was east, to be 4 49', or corrected, 7 21' east. 

The difference in Strong-tide Passage, where the land was one 
mile to the south-south-east on one side, and the same to the west 
on the other, was still more remarkable; for when the head was 
N. E. by N., an amplitude gave me 9°.io', or corrected, io° 34' east. 

There might have been an error in any of the ship observa- 
tions of half a degree ; but I am persuaded that the attraction of the 
land, sometimes to the east and sometimes west, as the ship was 
near one or the other side of the bay, was the great cause of the 
difference in the corrected results ; and it will presently be seen, that 
the effect on a neighbouring part of the coast was much more con- 

Digitized by 


Thirsty Sound.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 63 


Departure from Shoal-water Bay, and anchorage in Thirsty Sound. Mag* 
netical observations. Boat excursion to the nearest Northumberland 
Islands. Remarks on Thirsty Sound. Observations at West Hill, 
Broad Sound. Anchorage near Upper Head. Expedition to the 
head of Broad Sound : another round Long Island. Remarks on Broad 
Sound, and the surrounding country. Advantages for a colony. Astro* 
nomical observations, and remarks on the high tides. 

At noon September 4, when the botanical gentlemen returned from 1802. 
their excursion to Pine Mount, we made sail out of Shoal-water Bay satmxEy 4. 
with a breeze from the eastward. In steering north-west amongst 
the small islands, the soundings were between 9 and 14 fathoms ; 
and nearly the same afterwards, in keeping at three or four miles 
from the coast. I intended to go into Thirsty Sound ; but not 
reaching it before dark, the anchor was dropped in 8 fathoms, sandy 
bottom, when the top of Pier Head bore west, three miles. In the 
morning we ran into the Sound, and anchored in 6 fathoms, with the Sunday 5. 
points of entrance bearing N. 16 and S. 67 E., one mile, The car- 
penters had for some time been employed in making a sliding keel 
for the Lady Nelson, from the pine logs cut in Port Bowen ; and 
being now finished, it was sent on board. 

The botanists landed upon the east shore, preferring the main 
land for their pursuits ; and the launch was sent to haul the seine on 
that side, at a beach a little way up the Sound. I went to the top of 
Pier Head and took bearings of the Northumberland Islands, as also 
of the points and hills of the coast to the east and west ; the most 
essential of them to the connexion of the survey, were as under ; 

Digitized by 


«4 A VOYAGE TO [East Coart. 

SeilScr Mount' Westall, station on the top, - - S. 63* 20' E. 

Sunday 5. Aken's Island, station on the N. E. end, - S. 43 10 E. 

Pine Mount, - - - . S.25 5E, 

Long Island, the north point, distant 8 miles, N. 65 5 W. 
Peaked Hill, west side of Broad Sound, - N. 61 25 W. 
Northumberland L, a peak, marked h, - N. 22 25 W. 
,No. 3 peak (of Percy Isles), N. 20 10 E. 
Captain Cook observed, when taking bearings upon the top of 
Pier Head, " that the needle differed very considerably in its posi- 
" tion, even to thirty degrees, in some places more, in others less ; 
" and once he found it differ from itself no less than two points in 
"the distance of fourteen feet." ( Hawkesworth, III, 126) ; from 
whence he concluded there was iron ore in the hills. I determined, in 
consequence, to make more particular observations, both with the 
theodolite and dipping needle ; and shall briefly state the results 
obtained on this, and on the following day. 

Azimuths were taken, and the bearing of Mount Westall, dis- 
tant thirty-four miles, was set atS. 63 28' E. (true), whilst the theo- 
dolite remained in the same place ; and from a comparison between 
this bearing and those of the same object at different parts of the head, 
the variations were deduced. The dip was observed with both ends 
of the needle, and the face of the instrument changed each time. 
At the highest top of Pier Head, Var\ 3 25' E. Dip 53* 20' S. 
West, three yards from it, - 
S. E. three yards, - - 

S. S. E., ten yards, - - - 
North, four, - - 

N. E., twenty, - 

N. N. E., one-sixth mile, at the water side, 
S. E., one-third mile, at ditto, - 

There are here no differences equal to those found by captain Cook ; 
but it is to be observed, that he used a ship's azimuth compass, pro- 
bably not raised further from the ground than to be placed on a stone, 

6 10 

10 5 

8 6 

5* 19 

6 55 

6 50 

50 35 

7 6 

50 28 

8 s 

50 50 

Digitized by 


Thirsty Sonnd ] TERRA AUSTRALIA 6A 

whereas my theodolite stood upon legs, more than four feet high. The i**- 
dipping needle was raised about two feet; and by its greater inclination Sunday 5. 
at the top of the hill, shows the principal attraction to have been not 
far from thence. The least dip, 50 28', taken at the shore on the 
north side of the head, was doubtless the least affected ; but it ap- 
pears to have been half a degree too much, for at Port Bowen, 
twenty-two miles further south, it was no more than 50 20'. An 
amplitude taken on board the ship in the Sound by lieutenant Flin- 
ders, when the head was S. S. W., gave variation 8° 39', or corrected 
to the meridian, y 40' east. As Pier Head lay almost exactly in the 
meridian, from the ship, its magnetism would not alter the direction 
of the needle ; and I therefore consider 7 40' to be very nearly the 
true variation, when unaffected by local causes : in Port Bowen, it 
varied from 7 40' to 8° 30' east. 

Notwithstanding this very sensible effect upon the needle, 
both horizontally and vertically, I did not find, any more than cap- 
tain Cook, that a piece of the stone applied to the theodolite drew 
the needle at all out of its direction ; nevertheless I am induced to 
think, that the attraction was rather dispersed throughout the mass 
of stone composing Pier Head, than that any mine of iron ore exists 
in it. The stone is a porphyry of a dark, blueish colour. 

On the 6th, at noon, when the observations were finished and Monday 6. 
I had proposed to quit Thirsty Sound, the wind and tide were 
both against us. To employ the rest of the day usefully, I went over 
in the whale boat, accompanied by the landscape painter, to the 6th, 
7th, aird 8th Northumberland Islands, which, with many low islets 
and rocks near them, form a cluster three or four leagues to the 
north-east of the Sound. Orders were left with lieutenant Fowler 
to get the ship under way as early as possible on the following morn- 
ing, and coma out to meet us. 

Nearly mid- way between Pier Head and the cluster, lie some 
rocks surrounded with breakers ; and until they were passed the 
depth was from 6 to 8 fathoms, and 11 afterwards* We rowed to a 

Digitized by 


66 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

September ^each at l ^ e north-west end of the 7th island, proposing there to 
Monday 6. pass the night, and hoped to turn some turtle ; but proofs of natives 
having lately visited, or being perhaps then on the island, damped 
our prospects, and still more did the absence of turtle tracks; yet 
under each tree near the shore were the remains of a turtle feast. 
Tuesday 7. In the morning I ascended the highest hill on the 7th island, 

and took bearings ; but the hazy weather which had come on with a 
strong wind at E. S. E., confined them within a circle of three leagues. 
This island is somewhat more than a mile in length, and was covered 
with grass, but almost destitute of wood ; the rock is a greenish, 
speckled stone, with veins of quartz finely inserted, and is something 
between granite and porphyry. The 6th island is the largest of this 
little cluster, being two and a half miles long ; and it was well 
covered with wood. We rowed over to it with some difficulty on 
account of the wind, but could not sound in the channel ; it appeared 
to be deep, its least width three-quarters of a mile, and in fine wea- 
ther a ship might anchor there and procure pines fit for top masts, 
at several places in the group. Water was found under the hills on 
the 6th island ; but not in sufficient quantities for the purpose of a 

I looked anxiously, but in vain, for lieutenant Fowler to come out 
of Thirsty Sound ; for the wind blew so strong that it was uncertain 
whether the boat could fetch over, or that it was even safe to attempt 
it ; our provisions, besides, were nearly exhausted, and nothing more 
substantial than oysters could be procured. Pressed by necessity, we 
set off under close-reefed sails ; and the boat performing admirably, 
fetched the low neck to leeward of Pier Head, whence another boat 
took us to the ship ; and at high water in the evening, the whale 
boat floated over the neck and followed. 

When Mr. Fowler had weighed in the morning, according to 
my directions, the ship had driven so near the shore before the 
stream anchor was at the bows, that he let go the small bower ; but 
the cable parted, and obliged him to drop the best bower, being then 

Digitized by 


Thirsty Sound.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 57 

in s fathoms water with the wind blowing strong into the sound. 180 «« 
By means of a warp to the brig, the best bower was shifted into 4 Tuesday 7. 
fathoms; and when I got on board, the stream and small bower an- 
chors had just been recovered. The weather tide made at nine in the 
evening, and we ran into 7 fathoms in the channel ; and at daylight 
stood out of the sound, with the brig in company, having then a * 
moderate breeze at south-east. 

Of Thirsty Sound as a harbour, very little can be said in praise ; 
the north-east and east winds throw in a good deal of sea, and there 
is not room for more than three or four ships, without running up 
into the narrow part ; and what the depth may be there I did not 
examine, but saw that there were shoals. The entrance of the sound 
may be known by two round hills, one on each side, lying nearly 
north and south, one mile and a half from each other : the north- 
ernmost is Pier Head. The surrounding country is clothed with 
grass and wood ; but on the Long-Island side the grass is coarse, 
the trees are thinly scattered, and the soil is every where too stony 
for the cultivation of grain. 

There were many traces of natives, though none recent. 
Judging from what was seen round the fire places, turtle would seem 
to be their principal food ; and indeed several turtle were seen in 
the water, but we had not dexterity enough to take any of them. In 
fishing with the seine, at a small beach two miles up the sound, we 
always had tolerably good success ; but no fresh water accessible tQ 
boats could be found in- the neighbourhood. 

The latitude of Pier Head, from an observar 

tion made at the top in an artificial hori- ♦ 

zon, is - - 28° & 53" S. 

Longitude from thirteen sets of distances of 

the sun west of the moon, observed by 

lieutenant Flinders, 149 47' 50" ; but by the 

survey and the fixed position in Broad 

Sound, with which the time-keepers agreed, 

it will be more correctly - - - .150 o 10 E. 
vol. 11. I 

Digitized by 


68 A VOYAGE TO ' [East Coast. 

1802. Captain Cook specifies the situation of Thirsty Sound to be in 

Tuesday 7. latitude 22° io', longitude 149 42' ( Hawjcesworth, III, 128) ; but in 
the chart published by Mr. Dalrymple, it is 22*7' and 149° 36', 
which agrees nearer with the deductions of Mr. Wales (Astron. Obs. 
P- *85) # I* 1 either case it appears, that my longitude was getting 
more eastward from captain Cook as we advanced further along 
the coast. 
Wednes. 8. ' The tides in Thirsty Sound were neaped at this time, and the rise, 
judging by the lead line, was from ten to twelve feet ; but captain 
Cook says, " at spring tides the water does not rise less than sixteen 
" or eighteen feet/' which I have no doubt is correct. It ceases at ten 
hours and three quarters after the moon passes over and under the 

On quitting Thirsty Sound we steered north-westward, to pass 
round a chain of rocks extending six miles out from Her Head, and 
behind which there was a bight in Long Island, with some N appearance 
of an opening. It was my intention to examine Broad Sound up to 
the furthest navigable part, and we hauled up between the north 
point of Long Island and a cluster of small isles lying three miles to 
the north-west ; but finding the water too shallow, and that it would 
be more advantageous to begin the examination on the west side, I 
desired Mr. Murray to lead round the North-point Isles and across the 
sound. A small reef lies betwen four and five miles N. E. by E. 
from the largest and easternmost of these isles ; it is covered at half 
tide, and therefore dangerous, but we had 7 to 8 fathoms at less than 
a mile distance, on the inside. 

At noon, the depth was 8 fathoms, the largest North-point 
Isle, which is nearly separated into two, was distant four miles, and 
our situation was as under : 

Latitude observed to the north, - - - 21 56' 17" 

Pier Head top, bore - - S. 38 E. 

Northumberland Island, peak marked h, - N. 15 W. 

North-point I., westernmost, highest part, - S. 56W. 

-. ■ , largest, - S* 37 to 16 W. 

In steering W. by N., rippling Water was seen a-head at one 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 69 

o'clock ; and the depth diminishing to 4 fathoms, we hauled a little isoa. 
to the southward and then resumed our course. This rippling seems ^^SLel 
to have been on a part of the same shoal near which captain Cook 
anchored in 3 fathoms ; for it lies five miles from the North-point Isles, 
and as he says, " half way between them and three small islands 
" which lie directly without them." 

Our course for the west side of Broad Sound passed close to 
some low, flat isles, lying to the south-east of the peaked West Hill 
set from Pier Head. At dusk I sought to anchor behind the hill, for 
it had the appearance of being separated from the main land ; but the 
water being too shallow, we hauled off upon a wind. At ten o'clock, 
however, the breeze having become light and the sea gone down, 
an anchor was dropped in £ fathoms, sandy bottom ; whence the top 
of West Hill bore N. 68° W. three miles. A flood tide was found 
running from the N. N. E., one mile and a quarter per hour. . 

In the morning I landed with the botanical gentlemen, and Thursday 0. 
wished to ascend the top of the hill ; but the brush wood was too 
thick to be penetrable. Upon a projecting head on the north-east 
side, I took a part, and about halfway up the hill on the south-eist 
side, the remainder of a set of bearings, which included many of 
the Northumberland' Isles not before seen, and other of the Flat 
Isles within Broad Sound. The furthest visible part of the main land 
towards Cape Palmerston, was distant about five leagues, and be- 
hind it was a hill to which* from its form, I gave the name of Mount 
Funnel ;.the shore both to the north and south Vvas low, and the Flat 
Isles to the southward of the ship were mostly over-run with man- 
groves. I did not go round West Hill, and could not See whether 
it were connected with the main land, or not ; but if joined, it must 
be by a very low isthmus. The bearings at this station, most essen- 
tial to the connection of the survey, were these : 

Main coast, the extremes, - - N. i° and S. io° 45' E. 

Pier Head, the top, - - - S. 61 35 £. 

Northumberland Isles, peak marked h, - N. 61 45 E. 

- high northmost, marked i, dist. 11 L. N. 19 15 E. 

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60 A VOYAGE TO [East Coa$t 

i8o«. The stone of the hill had in it specks of quartz or feldtspath, 

Thuraday9. ^nd was not much unlike that of Pier Head; but it had a more 
basaltic appearance. A piece of it applied to the theodolite, drew 
the needle two degrees out of its direction, and yet the bearings did 
not show any great difference from the true variation ; for an ampli- 
tude taken on board the ship by Mr. Flinders, when the head was 
N. N. E., gave 6° 18', or corrected to the meridian, y 17' east, and 
the variation on the eastern side of the hill was 8° 15', according to 
the back bearing of Pier Head. 

From an observation of the sun's upper aad lower limbs in an 
artificial horizon, the latitude was 21 50' 18", and the ship bore 
from thence S. 68° E. two miles and a half; the latitude of the ship 
should therefore have been 21* 51' 14"; but a meridian altitude ob- 
served to the north by lieutenant Flinders, gave 21 49' 54,"; and I 
believe that altitudes from the sea horizon can never be depended on 
nearer than to one minute, on account of the variability of the hori- 
zontal refraction. From this cause it was that, when possible, we 
commonly observed the latitude on board the ship both to the north 
and south, taking the sun's altitude one way and his supplement the 
other, and the mean of the two results was considered to be true ; 
separately, they often differed 1', *', and even 3', and sometimes 
they agreed. The observation to the north most commonly gave 
the least south latitude, but not always, nor was there any regular 
coincidence between the results and the heights of the barometer or 
thermometer ; though in general, the more hazy the weather, the 
greater were the differences. At this time, the wind was light from 
the eastward and weather hazy ; the thermometer stood at 72 , and 
barometer at 30,15 inches. 

At two o'clock we got under way to go up Broad Sound, it 

* being then near low water. After steering south-east one mile, the 

depth rapidly diminished and we tacked ; but the ship was set upon 

a bank of sand, where she hung five minutes and then swung off. 

I afterwards steered nearer to the shore, in deeper water ; and at 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 61 

dusk the anchor was dropped in 5 fathoms, sandy bottom, between law. 
the Flat Isles and the main, West Hill bearing N.^'W. three rS^S 
leagues ; the master sounded towards the coast, which was five miles 
off, and found the deepest water to be on that side. In the morning 
the wind had shifted to south, and we beat up in a channel formed 
by the Flat Isles and the shoals attached to them, on one side, and 
the shelving banks from the main coast, on the other. We had the 
assistance of a strong flood tide till eleven o'clock; at which time the 
anchor was let go, one mile from the north end of the 4th Flat Island. 
I landed immediately, with the botanists ; and at the south-east 
end of the island, which is a little elevated, took bearings and the 
meridian altitude of both limbs of the sun from an artificial horizon. 
The latitude deduced was 22° 8' 33"; and the ship bearing 
N. 19*30' W., two miles, it should have been for her, 22° & 40"; 
but lieutenant Flinders' observation to the north gav» 2a 5' 10,", or 
1' 2 i " less, nearly as on the preceding day ; and it was ascertained that 
the difference arose neither from the eye nor the instrument. 
Amongst the bearings were, 

West Hill, the top, - - - N. i6*46'W. 

Northumberland Isles, the peak marked h, - N. 25 15 E. 

Long Island, extreme of the north point, - N. 73 35 E. . 

Upper Head, on the west shore up Broad Sound, S. 39 55 E. 

The 4th Flat Isle is about one mile long, and there is a smaller 

lying off its south-east end ; they are a little elevated, and bear grass 

and small trees; but the shores are covered with mangroves, and 

surrounded with extensive flats of mud and sand^ The main coast, 

from which they lie two or three miles, is also low, with mangroves 

and shelving mud banks ; but there is a deep channel between, of a 

mile in width. In the evening, when the flood made, we steered 

into this channel with a light sea-breeze; but not having time to clear 

it before dark, the anchor was dropped in 4 fathoms at six o'clock. 

My attention was attracted this evening by the vast extent of 

.mud left dry on each side of the channel, and I ordered particular 

Digitized by 


62 A VOYAGE TO \Eait Coast: 

1802. attention to be paid to the tides during the night. At eleven o'clock, 
September- w jjen the flood had ceased running, the depth Was sounded and the 
Saturday 11. lead line measured, and the same at half past five in the morning 
when it wasf low water ; the difference was no less than thirty-two 
feet, and it wanted a day of being full moon ; so that the springs* 
may reach two or three feet higher. The flood set S. by E., but its 
greatest rate did n6t exceed one mile and three quarters an hour. 

At daylight the wind was south-east, directly against us. We 
backed and filled, drifting up with the flood between the shoals on 
each side, and having the Lady Nelson and a boat a-head ,- but on 
approaching the end of the channel, our passage into the sound was 
blocked up by a bank running across, upon which there was not 
water enough for the ship by a fathom, and we therefore anchored. 
At nine the tide had risen a fathom, and we passed over into die 
open sound ; the depth immediately increasing to 4 and 7 fathoms, 
reduced to low water. So long as the flood continued running we 
worked up the sound; and when it ceased, anchored three miles 
from a shallow opening in the low western shore, the second which 
had been observed. We again proceeded upwards with the even- 
Sunday 12. ing's tide until dusk ; and at nine next morning passed a fifth open- 
ing, and anchored abreast of the hilly projection on its east side, 
which I have named Upper Head, in 4 fathoms, soft bottom, two- 
thirds of a mile from the shore. This was the first place on the 
main where there was any prospect of being able to land ; for the 
western shore, thus far up, was equally low, and as much over-run 
with mangroves and defended by muddy flats, as the shores of 
Keppel Bay. 

It being my intention to explore the head of Broad Sound with 
the brig and whale boat, a situation where tents could be fixed and 
an easy communication held with the ship during my absence, was 
the object now sought; and I immediately went with a party of the 
gentlemen, to ascertain how far Upper Head was calculated for our 
purpose. We landed at half flood, without difficulty; and on 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.} TERRA AUSTRALIA «8 

ascending the hill, obtained a view of the Sound which exceeded my 1802. 
expectations. Amongst the many bearings taken, were the follow- aJlday is.* 
ing fixed points in the survey. 

Pine Mount, of Shoal-water Bay, - S. 84° 38' E. 

Pier Head, the western part, - N. 36 7 E. 

West hill, the top, - - N. s8 5 W. 

Flat Isles, the 4th, station there, - N. 39 53 W. 

The breadth of the Sound, from Upper Head over to the inner 
end of Long Island, appeared to be three leagues, but it contracted 
upwards, and assumed the same river-like form as Shoal- water Bay; 
and it was to be feared, from the mangrove shores and muddiness 
, of the water, that it would terminate in the same manner. No shoals 
could be then distinguished ; but towards low water in the evening 
I again ascended the hill, and saw to my regret, that the upper parts 
were mostly occupied with banks of mud and sand, many of which 
were dry, and extended downward past the inner entrance of Thirsty 
Sound. Amongst the banks were various channels; but that of 
about two miles wide where the ship lay, was by far the most con- 
siderable. The small fifth opening, close on the west side of Upper 
Head, ran some miles in the low land towards the foot of a ridge of 
hills, lying three or four leagues at the back of the shore ; but the 
greater part of this inlet was also taken up by mud banks, and the 
borders covered with mangroves. There was no fresh water at 
Upper Head, nor did I see any prospect of obtaining wherewith to <• 
complete the holds of the two vessels before leaving the coast; unless 
it were at a place a little higher up on the same side, to which the 
appearance of another opening between two hills, induced me to 
move the ship. 

Next morning, when the flood made, we drifted upwards, with Monday 13. 
the Lady Nelson and a boat sounding a-head. After advancing three 
miles the brig suddenly took the ground, and we dropped a stream 
anchor ; but in swinging- to it, the ship was caught upon a bank of 
quick sand in eleven feet ; aijd the tide running strong upon the 

Digitized by 


64 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

1803. broad side, it made her heel in a manner to excite alarm. Thfe sails 
Monday 13. were immediately clewed down, and the top-gallant yards struck; 
and it appearing that the stream anchor allowed the ship to drive 
further up the bank as the tide rose, the best bower was let go, and 
then she righted and swung to the tide. The Lady Nelson also got 
off safe ; but a part of the after sliding keel was carried away. 

I went in a boat to examine the place which had presented the 
appearance of an opening; but it proved to be only a bending in 
the shore, and the mud banks and mangroves did not admit of 
landing ; we therefore went back with the returning ebb to Upper 
Head, and moored the ship nearly in our first situation; where there 
was something more than 3 fathoms all round, at low water. 
Tuesday 14. On the following morning, the time keepers and other instru- 

ments were sent on shore under the charge of lieutenant Flinders, 
with two of the young gentlemen to assist him, and a guard of 
marines for the protection of the tents. It had appeared from the 
survey, that the time keepers were losing more than the Port- Jackson 
rates supposed ; and before quitting this coast for the Gulph of Car- 
pentaria, it was necessary to take fresh observations. Mr. Flinders 
undertook as usual to perform this service, whilst I should be absent 
up the Sound ; and lieutenant Fowler was directed to examine and 
air all the stores, and make the ship ready for sea against my return. 
Having made these dispositions, I embarked in the Lady Nelson 
with the naturalist, taking my whale boat and surveying instruments. 
We had a strong flood tide; and after grounding on a bank, 
anchored eleven miles above the ship, in 3 fathoms, that being the 
greatest depth to be found. It was then high water ; and the brig 
being expected to be left dry by the ebb, we prepared for it by 
mooring, to prevent all chance of settling on the anchor, and hove 
up the fore and after keels; the new main keel being swelled by the 
wet, could not be raised, and when it took the ground, the vessel 
turned about violently and dragged both the anchors, until the keel 
broke off, and then she lay easy. 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 65 

At low water, the seamen went out upon the dry flat and found isos. 
the best-bower cable parted, and the anchor so far buried in the TulLdiy u*. 
quicksand, that it could not be raised. At ten o'clock the flood tide 
came rolling in, and presently set the brig afloat; the anchor was 
then weighed with ease, by means of a hawser previously bent to it, 
and the vessel rode by the small bower, against a tide which ran at 
the strongest between four and five knots. 

The Lady Nelson again took the ground at six in the morning. Wefae*. is. 
On sounding over to the east shore, distant half a mile, I found a 
small channel leading upwards, with four or five feet more water in 
it than where the brig lay; the western shore was two miles distant 
over a silty flat; which was dry at low water and level as a race ground. 

At eleven, the flood came in, six or eight inches perpendicular, 
with a ^oaring noise; and so soon as it had passed the brig, I set off 
with Mr. Brown and Mr. Lacy in the whale boat, to follow it up the 
small channel on the eastern shore; and having a fair wind we out- 
ran the tide, and were sometimes obliged to wait its rising before we 
could proceed. At the end of six miles the small channel led across 
to the western side ; and the rare opportunity of a landing place 
induced me to pitch our tent there for the night : two miles higher 
up, the whole breadth of the Sound was reduced to half a mile. 

The country here was a stiff, clayey flat, covered with grass, 
and seemed to have been overflowed at spring tides ; though the 
high water of this day did not reach it by five feet. Three or four 
miles to the southward there were some hills, whence I hoped to see 
the course of the stream up to its termination ; and having time 
before dark, we set off. The grass of the plain was interspersed 
with a species of sensitive plant, whose leaves curled up in, and about 
our footsteps in such a manner, that the way we had come was for 
some time distinguishable. From the nearest of the small hills, I 
set the bearings of Double and Pine Mounts, our tent, and the brig at 
anchor, by which this station was fixed as in the chart ; but in order 


Digitized by 


66 A VOYAGE TO [Bart Coo*. 

1808. to reconcile the bearings, I found it necessary to allow i& of east 

September. . .. 

Wednei. 15. variation. 

Towards Double Mount and Shoal-water Bay, the country 
consisted of gently-rising hills and extensive plains, well covered 
with wood and apparently fertile. The stream at the head of Broad 
Sound could not be traced from hence more than three, or four miles 
above the tent; but it may possibly run up much further to the 
south-eastward, though too small to be distinguished in the wood, 
or to be navigable for boats. To the south and westward there was 
a ridge of high land, which appeared to be a prolongation of the 
same whence the upper branches of Port Bowen and Shoal-water 
Bay take their rise, and by which the low land and small arms on 
the west side of Broad Sound are bounded. A similar ridge ran 
behind Port Curtis and Keppel Bay, and it is not improbable that the 
two are connected, and of the same substance ; for at Port Curtis 
the basis stone of the country was a granite, and this small hill was 
the same. It has been more than once observed, that granite is 
amongst the substances which exert an influence upon the magnetic 
needle ; and it is to the attraction of the ridge of mountains to the 
south and westward, that I attribute the great variation found in the 
bearings at this station. 

, We returned to the tent at sunset ; and there passed a disa- 
greeable night amongst musketoes, sand flies, and ants. At four in 

Thura. 16. the morning the ebb had made, and we embarked in the boat ; but 
the depth of water was so little that we could not proceed, and were 
obliged to re-land and wait for the following tide; not without 
apprehension of being left till the next springs came on. At two in 
the afternoon the flood came up rapidly, and in half an hour it was 
high water ; we set off immediately, and after some trouble from the 
shoals, reached the brig at five o'clock. Mr. Murray got under 

Friday lr. way at three the next morning to beat down to Upper Head, the 
wind being from the northward; but the Lady Nelson getting 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 67 

aground, I went off with Mr. Brown in my boat, and reached the iao2. 
ship at seven o'clofck, and in the evening, the brig arrived. Friday 17? 

Lieutenant Fowler had gone through the most essential duties, 
and the ship was nearly ready for sea ; but on landing at the tents I 
found that the time keepers had been let down, and the business of 
finding new rates for them was to be recommenced. This accident 
would require a week to be repaired ; and being unwilling to remain 
so long inactive, I determined to leave Mr. Flinders at Upper Head, 
and take the ship over to the inner end of Thirsty Sound, where it 
appeared there was sbmetbing to correct in captain Cook's chart. 

The Lady Nelson had lost two sheets of copper, and the Saturday is. 
trunks of the sliding keels required some reparation ; I therefore 
desired lieutenant Murray to lay his vessel on shore and get these , 
matters arranged, to cut wood for himself, and be ready to sail in a 
week for Torres' Strait ; ahd his stock of water was completed out of 
the Investigator. 

On the 19th ii* the morning we unmoored the ship, and a Sunday 19. 
little before low tide stretched over towards Thirsty Sound ; but the 
numerous shoals to be encountered, and which cannot be concisely 
described otherwise than in a chart, caused much delay ; and it 
was near noon of the day following before we anchored at the Monday 20. 
south end of Long Island, in J 3 fathoms, and about one mile from 
the low mangrove shore. At the south end of the island was 
a small hill, bearing S. 5$° E. one mile and a half from the ship, 
where I landed with a party of the gentleman ; it forms the west 
point of the inner entrance to Thirsty Sound, as sonie low ted cliffs, 
one mile and a half distant, do the east point ; but a shoal, dry at 
low water, lies in the middle, and the channels on each sid6 are not 
calculated for a ship. The small hill was found to b6 on a detached 
islet one mile long, the greater part of which is mud covered with 
mangroves ; the hill is partly excavated by an arched way running 
through it, and the stone is of a mixed red and white colour, and of 
an ochry consistence. From the highest top, 1 set 

Digitized by 


68 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

Se^ber Upper Head, bearing ' - - S. s8° »» # W. 

Monday*). Double Mount, -- - - S. 53 90 E. 

Pine Mount, - - S. 61 5 E. 

These bearings place the inner end of Thirsty Sound in latitude s* # 
16' ; and curtail the distance of thirty miles from Pier Head in 
captain Cook's chart, to twelve miles and a half. 

Tuesday si. On the sist, the botanical gentlemen went over in the launch 

to the east side of Thirsty Sound, the main land having been always 
found more productive in the objects of their pursuit, than any island 
however large. I went to examine along the west side of Long 
Island ; but had not proceeded two miles before an opening pre- 
sented itself amongst the mangroves. It led to the eastward, and 
then separated into two branches ; and in following that which trended 
north-east I came into Thirsty Sound, and landed five miles above 
the inner entrance, at an islet in mid-channel, which had been set 
from Pier Head and is laid down by captain Cook. 

No less than five different pieces of land were found to be cut 
off from the south end of Long Island, by winding channels amongst 
the mangroves ; and I now saw the prospect of a passage through 
the middle, leading out at the bight between the north point and Pier 
Head. A woody and rather elevated islet obscures the inner end of the 
opening, and seems to have prevented captain Cook's observing this 
separation when going up Thirsty Sound in his boat. I found in it 
a good bottom, with 3 to 5 fathoms water, and room for a ship to 
swing, or sail through as far as the outer opening to sea ; but another 
island lies in the outlet, the bottom is rocky, and the regular depth 
at low water is not so much as 3 fathoms on either side. 

Having taken a second set of angles, and passed out by the 
new opening, I steered northward along the east side of Long Island ; 
but although the land be high and rather steep, there was seldom so 
much as 3 fathoms at a mile distance. I landed at the north end of 
the island, to ascertain better the forms and positions of the North- 
point Isles; and then, steering southward along the west side. 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. «* 

entered a cove where the form of the surrounding land gave a hope 1802. 
of finding fresh water for the ship; but the borders were covered i^ky n \ 
with mangroves, and we could not get sufficiently far up to know 
whether any part of the stream running through them were fresh. 
Another, set of angles was taken from a hill on the south side of 
the cove ; and the sun being then set, our tent was pitched for the 

Next morning I steered onward along the west side of Long Wednes.22. 
Island, landing occasionally to examine the gullies made by the rains ; 
but at this time they were all dry. As far to the south as West- 
side Islet, the shore is tolerably high and the water deep ; and near 
to the inner end of the islet, where I landed to take angles, there 
was no bottom with 10 fathoms ; but the shore from thence to the 
ship was low and covered with mangroves, and even the rocky 
points cannot be approached within half a mile, except by boats. 

Not a single Indian was seen during this excursion round Long 
Island ; nor from the length of the grass and appearance of their fire 
places, do I think they had been there for some months. 

Next day I made a further examination of the winding channels Thurs. 23. 
at the south end of Long Island ; and also went to an inlet on the east 
side of Broad Sound, the entrance of which is so much obstructed by 
shoals, that it was difficult to find a sufficient depth, even for the boat, 
I landed with the naturalist at a low, cliffy head on the north side of 
the entrance ; but not without wading a quarter of a mile in the 
mud. We saw from thence, that this inlet, though presenting 
the appearance of a respectable river when the tide was in, had no 
perceptible breadth at five miles within the land, that it was almost 
wholly dry at low water, and that the shores were covered with 
mangroves to a great extent ; even the cliffy head where we stood, 
was surrounded with mangroves, and appeared to be insulated at 
spring tides. 

In the morning of the 24th, we got under way to return to Friday 34. 
Upper Head ; aud having the same difficulties to encounter amongst 

Digitized by 


▼0 A VOYAGE TO [EaU Coatt. 

*22b» ^ e s ^ loa ^ s as k^ 01 ** <Ed not reach our former anchorage until next 
aatunky«5. day. On landing at the tents, I found, to my no less surprise than 
regret, that the time keepers had again been let down ; and no more 
than one day's rates had been since obtained. Twenty-five sets of 
distances of the sun and moon had been taken to correspond with an 
equal number on the opposite side ; and it appeared that lieutenant 
Flinders being intent upon these, had forgotten to wind up the time 
keepers on the ssd at noon. 

This fresh difficulty was very embarrassing. To go away for 
Torres' Strait and the Gulph of Carpentaria without good rates, was 
to cripple the accuracy of all our longitudes ; and on the other hand, 
the expected approach of the contrary monsoon on the North Coast 
admitted of no longer delay in Broad Sound. On comparing the 
last day's rates with those of the four days previously obtained, the 
letting down did not appear to have produced any material altera* 
tion ; and I therefore determined to combine the whole together, 
and to sail immediately. 
Sunday w. The following day was occupied in completing the holds with 

wood, taking on board our shore establishment, and preparing for 
Monday «7. sea; and next morning we steered down Broad Sound, with the 
Lady Nelson in company, keeping near the western side to avoid 
the middle shoals. On a sea breeze coming in at north, we tacked 
towards the North-point Isles ; and at sunset, the flood tide having 
then made, anchored in 8 fathoms, upon a bottom of sand and rock, 
the north- westernmost isle bearing N. 6* E., two leagues. In the 
morning -we passed round the North-point Isles, with a breeze from 
the south-east ; and thus quitted Broad Sound, steering off for the 
outermost and largest of the Northumberland Islands. 

There remains little to be said upon the navigation of Broad 
Sound, more than what has been related of our courses in it, and 
what will be found in the chart. The western channel, between the 
Flat Isles and the main, is not to be recommended ; but after steer- 
ing up the middle of the Sound and passing these isles, the western 

Digitized by 



shore should be kept nearest a-bord. A ship may then reach Upper is&z. 
Head without difficulty, and lie there in p&rfeGt safety from all winds, t^^/^1 
at two-thirds of a mile off; but cannot go higher up the sound with- 
out risk of grounding on the banks. From half flood to half ebb, 
landing is easy at Upper Head, and it is perhaps the sole place on 
the main possessing that advantage ; every where else the shore is 
very low, fronted with mud banks, and covered, in some places miles 
deep, with interwoven mangroves, amongst which the tide flows at 
high water. 

The stone of Upper Head, and apparently of all the hills in its 
neighbourhood, is granitic; whilst that of Long Island and West 
Hill approach nearer to porphyry. At the inner entrance of Thirsty 
Sound the points are mostly composed of an earth, which is not 
heavy, is sometimes red, but more frequently white, or mixed ; and 
of a consistence not harder than ochre. 

Long Island, though covered with grass and wood, is stony 
and incapable of ordinary cultivation. On the main land, the low 
parts between the mangroves and the hills seemed to be of a tolera^ 
bly good soil; and according to the report of some of the gentlemen 1 , 
who made an excursion al the back of Upper Head, the valKes 
there produce good grass and appeared fertile. There seems, indeed, 
to be a considerable extent of land about Broad Sound and on the 
peninsula between it and Shoal-water Bay, which, if not calculated to 
give a rich return to the cultivator of wheat, would support much 
cattle, and produce maize, sugar, and tobacco ; and cotton and coffee 
would grow upon the more rocky sides of the hills, and probably 
even upon Long Island. Should it ever be in contemplation to make 
an establishment in New South Wales within the tropic, in aid of 
Port Jackson and the colonies to the southward, \lus neighbourhood 
would probably be chosen ; and the great rise of tide presents advan- 
tages which might be some time turned to account in ship building. 
On the west side of the sound, near the Flat Isles, the rise at spring 
tides is not less than thirty, and perhaps reaches to thirty-five feet. 

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*2 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

isoa. At Upper Head it is from twenty at the neaps, to thirty or more at 
ep ^ # the springs ; but the bottom rises so much towards the top of the 
sound, that the tide there never seems to exceed twelve feet. The 
time of high water is nearly eleven hours after the moon's passage 
over and under the meridian; though the flood runs up near an hour 
on the west side of the sound, after it is high water by the shore. 

The places best calculated for the construction of docks, appear 
to be at the uppermost or 4th Flat Isles, where the shoals form a 
natural harbour, and at the entrance of the opening near Upper 
Head, in which is a small islet of sand and rock, not covered with 
mangroves nor surrounded with mud flats. The pines of Port Bowen 
Shoal-water Bay, and the Northumberland Isles, would furnish the 
necessary spars and lighter planking; and there is no reason to 
think that the eucalyptus, which grows all over the country, should 

v not be as fit for timbers, &c, as it is found to be further southward. 

No iron ore was sem in the neighbourhood; but were a colony 
established and the back ridge of mountains well examined, this and 

« other metallic productions might be found. The attraction which 

the mountains seemed to have upon the needle, is in favour of this 

, probability ; but the iron work might be prepared at Port Jackson 

where the ore exists, and in whose vicinity there are plenty of coals. 
Fresh water was scarce at this time, none being any where 
discovered near the sea side, except a small rill at the back of Upper 
Head, little more than adequate to the supply of the, tents ; it can 
however be scarcely doubted, that fresh water for domestic purposes 
would be found in most parts of the country ; and there is a season 
of the year, most probably the height of summer, when rain falls 
abundantly, as was demonstrated by the torrent^worn marks down 
the sides of the hills. 

Not a single native was seen, either on the shores of Thirsty, 
or Broad Sounds, during the whole time of our stay. 

There are kanguroos in the woods, but not in numbers. The 
eboals all over the sound are frequented by flocks of ducks and 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 73 

curlews; and we saw in the upper part, some pelicans, an individual 1802. 
of a large kind of crane, and another of a white bird, in form re- p em 
sembling a curlew. Many turtle were seen in the water about Long 
Island, and from the bones scattered around the deserted fire places, 
this animal seemed to form the principal subsistence of the natives ; 
but we had not the address to obtain any. Hump-backed whales 
frequent the entrance of the sound, and would present an object of 
interest to a colony. In fishing, we had little success with hook and 
line; and the nature of the shores did not admit of hauling the seine. 

The climate here, being one degree within the tropic, was 
Warm at this season, which may be considered as the spring and the 
driest time of the year. On board the ship, the height of the ther- 
mometer did not exceed 76*, with the warm winds from the north- 
Ward, but at the tents it averaged at noon somewhat above 90 ; and 
the musketoes and sand flies were very troublesome at all places 
near the mangroves. We did not see any snakes or other venemous 
reptiles or insects. 

The latitude of Upper Head, from six meridian 
observations in the artificial horizon, is - 22 23' 24" S. 

Longitude from fifty sets of distances of the sun 
and moon, given in Tab. II of the second 
Appendix to this volume, - - 1 49 46 53 E. 

The errors of the time keepers from mean Greenwich time, at 
noon there Sept. 26, and their mean rates of going during seven days, 
of which four were before and three after they had been let down 
the second time, were as under : 
Earnshaw's No. 543 slow 2 h 3' 37^,23 and losing g,"6z per day. 
No. 520 - 3 29 15, 57 - - 21,41 
These errors and rates were found by lieutenant Flinders, from equal 
altitudes taken with a sextant on a stand, and using an artificial 
horizon of quicksilver. 

The longitudes given by the time keepers on Sept. 12 a.m. at 
Upper Head, with the Port- Jackson rates, were these: 
vol. 11. L 

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74 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 


No. 543, 149 54' 27" east. 
No. 530, 149 53 47,5. 
The mean is 7' 14" to the east of the lunars ; but on using rates 
equally accelerated from those at Port Jackson to the above at Upper 
Head, and commencing the acceleration on Aug. 15, at Keppel Bay, 
where the time keepers were found to be keeping their former rates, 
the mean longitude will be i49°48' 56" ,6, or 2' 3" ,6 from the lunar 
observations; which is therefore the presumable sum of their irregu- 
larities after August 15, or in 27,7 days. 

In fixing the positions of places along the East. Coast, I have 
made use of the time keepers from Port Jackson to Port Curtis, 
without any correction. From Port Curtis to Broad Sound, the 
coast and islands are laid down from theodolite bearings taken on 
shore, combined with the observed latitudes ; and consequently the 
accuracy in longitude of the first portion depends upon that of Port 
Jackson and the time keepers, and of the last, upon Upper Head and 
the survey. These two unconnected longitudes meet at Port Cur- 
tis, and the difference between them is there no more than 5." 

From observations with the theodolite upon the top of Upper 
Head, the variation was 8° 37' east ; but on moving the instrument 
ten yards to the south-west, it was 45' less. At two other stations on 
the west side of the sound, it was 8° 15*, and 8° o' ; and on board 
the ship 7° 1/ and 7 46', corrected. On the east side of the sound 
it differed at six stations on shore, from 8° to 6°; and on board the 
ship was 6° 44' corrected. As general results, therefore, but subject 
to many small deviations, the variation may be taken, 

On the west side of Broad Sound at 8° o' E. 

On the east side - - 70 

At the head of the sound it was, at one station 
12 , at another io° ; the mean, - 110 

The differences between the two sides of the sound, both on shore and 
on board, are nearly similar to what took place in Shoal- water Bay. 
The rise of tide and time of high water have been mentioned; 

Digitized by 


Broad Sound] TERRA AUSTRALIA 75 

but it may be proper to say what I conceive to be the cause of the isos. 
extraordinary rise in Broad Sound. From Cape Howe, at the southern p em 
extremity of the East Coast, to Port Curtis at the edge of the tropic, 
the time of high water falls between seven and nine hours after the 
moon's passage, and the rise does not exceed nine feet ; but from 
thence to the northward, commencing with Keppel Bay, the time 
becomes later, and the rise augments, till, at Broad Sound, they reach 
eleven hours, and between thirty and thirty-five feet. The principal 
flood tide upon the coast is supposed to come from the south-east, 
and the ebb from the north, or north-west ; but from the particular 
formation of Keppel and Shoal-water Bays, and of Broad Sound, 
whose entrances face the north, or north-west, this ebb tide sets into 
them, and accumulates the water for some time, becoming to them a 
flood. This will, in some degree, account for the later time and 
greater rise of the tide ; and is conformable to what captain Cook 
says upon the same subject (Hawkesworth, III. 244) ; but I think 
there is still a super-adding cause. At the distance of about thirty 
leagues to the N. N. W. from Break-sea Spit, commences a vast 
mass of reefs, which lie from twenty to thirty leagues from the coast, 
and extend past Broad Sound. These reefs, being mostly dry at low 
water, will impede the free access of the tide ; and the greater pro- 
portion of it will come in between Break-sea Spit and the reefs, and 
be late in reaching the remoter parts ; and if we suppose the reefs to 
terminate to the north, or north-west of the Sound, or that a large 
opening in them there exist, another flood tide will come from the 
northward, and meet the former; and the accumulation of water 
from this meeting, will cause an extraordinary rise in Broad Sound 
and the neighbouring bays, in the same manner as the meeting of the 
tides in the English and Irish Channels causes a great rise upon the 
north coast of France and the west coast of England. 

That an opening exists in the reefs will hereafter appear; and 
captain Cook's observations prove, that for more than a degree to 

Digitized by 


76 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. the north-west of Broad Sound, the flood came from the northward. 
I found, when at anchor off Keppel Bay, and again off Island Head, 
that the flood there came from the east or south-east ; but when 
lying three miles out from Pier Head, there was no set whatever ; 
and I am disposed to think that it is at the entrance of Broad Sound, 
where the two floods meet each other. 

Digitized by 


Percy /«&*.] TERRA AUSTRXLlS. TT 


The Percy Isles: anchorage at No. 2. Boat excursions. Remarks on 
the Percy Isles; with nautical observations. Coral reefs: courses 
amongst them during eleven days search for a passage through, to sea. 
Description of a reef Anchorage at an eastern Cumberland Isle. The 
Lady Nelson sent back to Port Jackson. Continuation of coral reefs; 
and courses amongst them during three other days. Cape Gloucester. 
An opening discovered, and the reefs quitted. General remarks on the 
Great Barrier; with some instruetion relative to the opening. 

On quitting Broad Sound, we steered for the north-easternmost of iso*. 
the Northumberland Islands, which I intended to visit in the way to TuesSyss. 
Torres' Strait. These are no otherwise marked by captain Cook, 
than as a single piece of land seen indistinctly, of three leagues in ex- 
tent; but I had already descried from Mount Westall and Pier Head 
a cluster of islands, forming a distinct portion of this archipelago; 
and in honour of the noble house to which Northumberland gives 
the title of duke, I named them Percy Isles. 

At noon, the observed latitude on both sides was si 51' 20"; (Atlas, 
the west end of the largest North-point Isle bore S 18 W. three or PtoteXI -) 
four leagues, and the Percy Isles were coming in sight a-head. The 
weather was hazy ; and the wind at E. S. E. preventing us from 
fetching No. 2, the largest isle, we tacked at five o'clock, when it 
bore S. 3i°to54,°E., two or three leagues; No. 5, the north- west- 
ernmost of the cluster, bearing N. 24° W., two miles and a half. At 
dusk the anchor was dropped in 14 fathoms, sandy ground, two or 
three miles from some rocky islets which lie off the west side of 
No. 2. The flood tide at this anchorage came from the north-east, 
one mile per hour. 

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7» A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. We got under way again in the morning ; but the wind being 

Wcdnca. 29. light and unfavourable, and the tide adverse, I went off in the whale 
boat, accompanied by Messrs. Brown and Westall, to examine the 
passage between the rocky islets and No. s, directing lieutenant 
Fowler to follow with the ship when the signal should be made. 
We first landed at the islets, where the same kind of pine as seen at 
Port Bowen and other places, was abundant ; and leaving the two 
gentlemen there, I sounded the passage, which was a mile and a half 
wide, with a sandy bottom of 8 to 13 fathoms deep, and sheltered 
from all eastern winds. The signal was then made to the ship; and 
so soon as she was brought to anchor, I went to examine a little 
cove, or basin, into which the height of the surrounding hills gave 
expectation of finding a run of fresh water. The entrance is little 
more than wide enough for the oars of a rowing boat, the basin, 
within side, is mostly dry at low water, and the borders are over-run 
with the tiresome mangrove ; but when the tide is in, it is one of the 
prettiest little places imaginable. In searching round the skirts, 
between the mangroves and feet of the hills, a torrent-worn gully 
was found with several holes of water ; and one in particular, near 
the edge of the mangroves, where, by cutting a rolling way for the 
casks, the holds of the two vessels might be filled ; and at a beach 
without side of the entrance to the basin, several hauls of the seine 
were made with good success. * 

Thurs. 30. Early next morning, lieutenant Fowler landed with a party of 

men prepared to cut through the mangroves ; but fresh water was 
discovered to ooze out from amongst them, much below high-water 
mark ; and by digging in the sand at half ebb, our casks might be 
filled more easily, and with better water than in the gully. Whilst 
this duty was going on, the carpenters were sent to cut fire wood 
and pine logs upon the rocky islets, the botanical gentlemen followed 
their pursuits where it best pleased them, and my time was occupied 
in surveying. From a hill near the head of the basin, I took bear- 
ings of all the objects to the south and westward ; amongst which, 

Digitized by 



the five following were the most important to the connexion of the 1802. 

r September. 

survey. Thurs. sa 

Mount Westall on the main (not distinct), - S. 23 5'E. 

Northumberland Islands, the 4th, a peak, - S. 18 20 E. 

the 7th, station on the hill, - S. 19 30 W. 

— a peaked I. marked h, S. 89 55' to N. 87 35 W. 

high northmost, marked /, - N. 57 o W. 

The circle was completed in the afternoon, from a higher part of the 
island near the north point ; and the weather being tolerably clear, 
nearly the whole of the Northumberland Islands were comprehended 
in the bearings from one or the other station. Two distant pieces of 
land in the N. W. by N., marked k and k 1, situate near the eastern 
Cumberland Islands of captain Cook, were also distinguished; but 
to the north-east, where I expected to see a continuation of the reefs 
discovered by captain Campbell of the brig Deptford, in 1797, neither 
reef nor island was visible. 

On the 2nd of October, Mr. Brown accompanied me to No. 1 , October, 
the southernmost of the Percy Isles, which is near five miles long, Saturda y *• 
and the second of the group in magnitude. Fresh water was found 
in ponds near the shore, and there were clusters of pine trees ; but 
in general, this island is inferior to No. 2, both in soil and productions. 
Of the two peaked hills upon it, the south-easternmost is highesf ; 
but being craggy and difficult to be ascended, my bearings were 
taken from the western hill. In returning to the ship in the evening, 
we passed between No. 6 and the east side of No. 2, and round the 
north end of the latter island, in order to see the form of its coasts : 
the water was deep, and there appeared to be no Hidden dangers. 

On the 3rd, Mr. Bauer, the natural-history painter, went with Sundays. 
me to the northern Percy Isles, upon each of which is a hill some- 
what peaked; but that on No. 3 is much the most so, and the highest; 
and being thickly covered with pine trees, is called Pine Peak: it lies 
in 21 3ij' south and 150 14^ east. My principal object was to 
take angles for the survey ; and not being able to ascend Pine Peak, 

Digitized by 


^ A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

I802. from its great acclivity, we went onward to the two smaller islands 
s Sunday 3. No. 4 ; and from the top of the easternmost, a third Cumberland 
Island, marked k 2, was distinguished, and the following amongst 
many other bearings, were taken. 

Percy Isle No. 3, Pine Peak, distant 2^ miles, - S a # g W. 

The ship, at anchor under No. 2, - S. 10 48 W. 

Northumberland I., the 7th, station, - - S. 14 o W. 

■ , the peak marked h, - S. 67 35 W. 

, the high, northmost, marked 2, N. 73 10 W. 

Cumberland I., marked it, centre, - - N. 36 o W. 
, marked k 2, centre, - - N. 42 50 W. 
There is no shelter amongst the northern Percy Isles against 
east winds ; but ships may pass between them, taking care to avoid 
a rock which lies one mile northward from the Pine Peak, and is 
dry at low water. Nothing was seen on these islands to merit more 
particular notice ; and their forms and situations will be best learned 
from the chart. 

On returning to the ship at nine in the evening, I found lieu- 
tenant Fowler had quitted the shore with his tents and people, the 
holds were completed with water, and both vessels ready for sea. 

N#w 2, the largest of the Percy Isles, is about thirteen miles in 
circumference ; and in its greatest elevation perhaps a thousand feet. 
The stone is mostly of two kinds. A concreted mass of different sub- 
stances, held together by a hard, dark-coloured cement, was the 
most abundant ; I did not see either coral or pumice-stone in the 
composition, but it otherwise much resembled that of Aken's Island 
in Shoal- water Bay, and still more a stratum seen at the north-west 
^art of Long Island : it was found at the tops of the highest hills, as 
well as in the lower parts. The second kind of stone is light, close- 
grained, and easily splits, but not in layers ; it is of a yellowish 
colour, and probably argillaceous. 

The surface of the island is either sandy or stony, or both, 
with a small proportion of vegetable soil intermixed. It is generally 

Digitized by 


Percy Isles.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 81 

covered with grass and wood ; and some of the vallies round the 1802. 
basin might be made to produce vegetables, especially one in which ° ctoben 
there was a small run, and several holes of fresh water. The prin- 
cipal wood is the eucalyptus, or gum tree, but it is not large ; small 
cabbage palms grow in the gullies, and also a species of fig tree, 
which bears its fruit on the stem, instead of the ends of the branches ; 
and pines are. scattered in the most rocky places. 

No inhabitants were seen upon any of the islands, but there 
were deserted fire places upon all. The Indians probably come 
over from the main land at certain times, to take turtle, in which 
they must be much more dexterous than we were ; for although 
many turtle were seen in the water, and we watched the beaches at 
night, not one was caught. There are no kanguroos upon the 
Percy Isles ; nor did we see any useful birds. The large bats 
or vampyres, common to this country, and called flying-foxes at 
Port Jackson, were often found hanging by the claws, with their heads 
downward, under the shady tops of the palm trees ; and one soli- 
tary eel of a go % od size, was caught on clearing out the hole where 
our water casks had been first intended to be filled. 

Pines, fresh water, and fish will be some inducement to visit the 
Percy Isles ; as perhaps may be the hump-backed whales, of which 
a considerable number was seen in the vicinity. The best and most 
convenient anchorage, and indeed the only one to be recommended, 
is that where the Investigator lay, directly offthe basin ; in mid- 
channel between No. s and the western pine islets. It is sheltered 
at fourteen points to the eastward, and three towards the west ; and 
there being a clear passage out, both to the north and south, no 
danger is to be apprehended : the bottom, however, does not hold 
v6ry well. 

A wet dock might be made of the basin without other trouble, 
or expense than a little deepening of the narrow entrance, and 
throwing a pair of gates across; and were the mud to be cleared 


Digitized by 


8t A VOYAGE TO [E«t CW*. 

I**. out > *h e b* 8 * 11 wowW contain fifteen or twenty sail of merchant ships 
° ctQbef • with great ease. 

The flood tide came from the north and the ebb from the south, 
past the anchorage; but on the outside, they run south-west and 
north-east. It is not extraordinary that the rise and fall by the shore 
did not exactly coincide with the swinging of the ship ; but that the 
time of high water should differ three hours, and the rise twenty 
feet from Broad Sound, is remarkable. According to Mr. Fowler's 
observations in the basin,, it was high water there eight hours after 
the moon's passage ; and the rise at the neaps and springs appeared 
to be from eight to twelve feet. 

Three meridian observations to the north, 
taken by lieutenant Flinders, gave the lati- 
tude of our anchorage, - - - «i° 39' 31" S. 
Longitude, according to the position of Upper 

Head and the survey from thence, - - 150 12 £. 
Variation of the needle, observed on the low 

south-west point of No. a, - - - 8 28 E. 
Three compasses on board the ship at anchor, 
gave 5 34' when the head was east, or cor- 
rected to the meridian, - - 8 4 E. 
Upon the different elevated places whence bearings were taken, the 
variation differed from 7 30' to 9* 30' east. 
Monday 4. Early in the morning of the 4th, we got under way, with the 
Lady Nelson in company, to proceed on our voyage to Torres' Strait 
and the Gulph of Carpentaria. The wind was at E. by N., and we 
kept close up, to weather the northern Percy Isles ; for I had a desire 
to fall in with the reefs laid down by Mr. Campbell, three-quarters 
of a degree to the eastward, in latitude 2 1£° ; and to ascertain their 
termination to the north-westward. 

The tide prevented us from weathering the islands till three 
in the afternoon* ; we then passed between No. 4 and some rocks 

Digitized by 


Percy, Isles.-] TERRA AtiSTRALIS. , 83 

lying two miles to the north-east, with 33 fathoms water. During isos- 
the night we tacked every two hours, working to the eastward, in Tuesday 5. 
from 30 to 36 fathoms ; and at daylight, my station on the eastern 
isle No. 4 bore N. Bg° W., four leagues. Nothing was seen in the 
offing, but in stretching to the N. N. E., reefs were discovered from the 
mast head a little before noon ; and after the observation for the lati± 
tude was taken, I set one bearing East to E. by S., two leagues, and 
another N. 14,* W. to 29 E., four or five miles. Our situation was 
in 21° 15*' south, and longitude from the bearing of the Pine Peak, 

150° 84' east - 

These reefs were not exactly those seen by Mr. Campbell ; but 
they are probably not more than five or six leagues to the north* 
westward of them, and form part of the same barrier to the coast. In 
standing on between the two reefs above set, others, or parts of the 
. same, came in sight a-head ; upon which I shortened sail to the three 
top sails, desired the Lady Nelson to take the lead, and bore away 
north-westward along the inner side of the northern reef. In an%our 
we had passed its west end ; but another reef came in sight, and for 
a time obliged us to steer W. by S. At four o'clock we ran north- 
ward again, following the direction of the reef on its lee side ; and at 
six anchored in 27 fathoms, coarse sand, in the following situation : 

Latitude observed from the moon, - si* 4' S. 

Longitude from bearings, - - - 150 19 E. 

Nearest part of the reef, dist. 2y miles, 

A smaller reef, distant 3 miles, 

Percy Isles, Pine Peak of No. 3, 

Cumberland Island marked k, 
The reefs were not dry in any part, with the exception of 
some small black lumps, which at a distance resembled the round 
heads of negroes ; the sea broke upon the edges, but Within side the 
water was smooth, and of a light green colour. A further descrip- 
tion of these dangers is unnecessary, since their forms and relative 
positions, so far as they could be ascertained, will be best learned 
from the chart. 




N. W. 



S. 9 



W. 6 


Digitized by 


84 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

I802. u n til midnight, five hours after the moon had passed the 

Tuesday 5. meridian, a tide came from S. by E.,half a mile per hour. The ship 
then tended to the N. E. by E. ; and this tide, whose rate was one 
mile, appearing to be the flood, led me to suppose there might be an 
Wednes. 6. open sea in that direction. In the morning, I sent a boat to lieutenant 
Murray with instructions for his guidance in case of separation ; and 
appointed him Murray's Islands in Torres' Strait, discovered by cap- 
tain Edwards in 1791, for the first rendezvous ; cautioning him to 
be strictly on his guard against the treachery of the natives. 

We weighed at seven o'clock, and steered N. N. E., close to 
the wind; at ten, reefs came in sight, extending from W. byN., 
to N. by E, I E., which we weathered one mile, having 35 fathoms 
water. Our situation at noon was in latitude 20 45' 40", from ob- 
servations to the north and south, and the longitude by time keeper 
150° 38' ; the east end of the great reef to leeward bore S. W. ^ W. 
two miles, and it extended in patches to N. 16* W., where, at the dis- 
tance of two leagues, was either a dry white sand or high breakers ; 
but which, could not be discerned from the reflection of the sun. 
Nothing was seen to the north-east, and we now lay up in that 
direction ; but at one o'clock there was a small reef bearing N. \ E. ; 
and at three, a larger one extended from N. by W. £ W. to E. N. E., 
and on the outside of it were such high breakers, that nothing less 
than the unobstructed waves of the ocean could produce them. We 
stood on for this reef, until four ; and being then one mile off, 
tacked to the southward, having 33 fathoms, nearly the same depth 
as before. 

The larbord tack was continued to six o'clock, at which time 
we anchored in 32 fathoms, white sand, shells, and pieces of coral, 
having neither reef nor danger of any kind in sight ; but the smooth- 
ness of the water left no doubt of many lying to windward. From 
the high breakers seen in the afternoon, however, hopes were 
entertained of soon clearing the reefs ; for by this time I was weary 
of them, not only from the danger to which the vessels were 
thereby exposed, but from fear of the contrary monsoon setting 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs.*] TERRA AUSTRALIA 86 

in upon, the North Coast, before we should get into the Gulph of isoa. 
Carpentaria. WedneJc. 

At this anchorage, the tide came from between S. W. by S. and 
W. by S., till midnight ; and at two in the morning the ship rode Thursday r. 
north, and afterwards N. E. by E., to the flood ; which seemed to 
imply two openings in the reefs, and one of them near the high 
breakers. The depth of water changed from 35 to 3s fathoms, in 
the night ; but a part of the difference might arise from irregularities 
in the bottom. 

We got under way at daybreak, and stretched south-east to 
gain the wind ; at nine, a reef was passed on each beam ; and at 
noon, when we tacked to the northward in 20 58' south and 150 48' 
east, there were five others, distant from two to five miles, bearing 
from S. 20° W., round by the east and north to N. 25 W.; but 
apparently with passages between most of them. Upon these reefs 
were more of the dry, black lumps, called negro heads, than had 
been seen before ; but they were so much alike as to be of no use in 
distinguishing one reef from another; and at high water, nearly the 
whole were covered. 

In the afternoon, a very light wind at north-east left no pro- 
spect of weathering the reef before dark, upon which the high 
breakers had been seen ; we therefore tacked to the E. S. E., and 
anchored at sunset in 34 fathoms, fine white sand, not far from our 
noon's situation ; a reef, partly dry, was then distant one mile and a 
half, and bore E. \ S. to S. E. The flood tide here ran something 
more than one mile an hour, and came from between north and north- 
west, the ship tending to it at one in the morning. Friday 8. 

At seven, when the flood had done running, the two vessels 
were lying up E. N. E., with a light breeze from the northward; but 
* rippling which extended a mile from the reef, caused us to tack 
until a boat was sent to sound upon it ; for the Lady Nelson was so 
leewardly, that much time was lost in waiting for her. At ten we 
passed through the rippling, in from 14 to 34 fathoms ; and at noon 

Digitized by 


86 A VOYAGE TO [EastComt 

isot. were in latitude so 5$', and longitude 150 55' by time keeper. We 
Friday 8. seemed at this time to be surrounded with reefs ; but it was ascer- 
tained by the whale boat, that many of these appearances were 
caused by the shadows of clouds and the ripplings and eddies of tide, 
and that the true coral banks were those only which had either green 
water or negro heads upon them. Of these, however, there was a 
formidable mass, all round a-head, with but one small channel 
through them ; and this I was resolved to attempt, in the hope of its 
carrying us out to windward of the high breakers. 

At two o'clock, the eastern reef, which was a mile distant to 
leeward and nearly dry, was seen to terminate, whilst the northern 
reefs extended out of sight to the north-east ; the opening between 
them was a mile and a half wide, and full of ripplings ; but having 
the whale boat a-head, we bore away E. S. E., to go through the 
least agitated part. Having little wind, and a flood tide making 
against us, the boat was called back to tow, and the brig directed to 
take its station by means of her sweeps. Our soundings were 
irregular in the narrow part, between 24 and 9 fathoms, on rocky 
ground ; but after getting through, we had from 30 to 32, the usual 
depth in the open places. At sunset, the stream anchor was dropped 
on a bottom of coral sand and shells ; the reefs then in sight extend- 
ing from about E. S. E., round by the north to N. W., where was 
the great northern bank. Whether there were any passage through 
them, could not be discerned ; but the breakers on many of the outer 
parts proved the open sea to be not far distant, and that the waves 
ran high; whilst within side, the water was as tranquil as in harbour. 
The ship rode north-west, till between eight and nine o'clock, 
when it appeared to be high water, and the depth was 35 fathoms ; 
at 9 h 34/ the moon passed the meridian, and we were then riding 
S. by W., to a tide which ran at the strongest one and a quarter mile 
Saturday 9. per hour. Between three and four in the morning this tide had done, 
the depth was 31 fathoms, and the ship afterwards rode N. N. E. till 
daylight. The first of the flood therefore came from the N. N. E., 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs.] TERRA AUSTRAUS S* 

and the latter part from N. W. ; it was high water at one hour before ism. 
the moon's passage, an$ the rise at least three fathoms, or eighteen s*tui!aay9- 
feet. This time of high water coincides with that of Broad Sound; 
but it is remarkable, that at the Percy Isles, lying between them, it 
should be three hours earlier. The rise in Broad Sound was five 
fathoms, and three, or more, amongst the reefs; whereas at the 
Percy Isles, there was nothing on the shore to indicate a higher tide, 
than two fathoms. 

In the morning we steered E. N. E., with a light air from the 
southward; the brig was a-head, and at half past nine, made the 
signal for immediate danger; upon which the stream anchor was 
dropped in 16 fathoms. The tide ran one mile and a half to the 
E. N. E., and this leading me to expect some opening in that direc- 
tion, I sent the master to sound past the brig ; and on his finding 
deeper water we followed, drifting with the tide. At eleven he 
made the signal for being on a shoal, and we came to, in 35 fathoms, 
broken coral and sand ; being surrounded by reefs, except to the 
westward from whence we had come. On the outside were high 
breakers, not more than three or four miles distant; these terminated 
at E. by S., and between them and other reefs further on, there 
seemed a possibility of finding an outlet ; but no access to it could be 
had, except by a winding circuit amongst the great mass of banks to 
the southward, which it was not advisable to make upon such an un- 
certainty. I therefore determined to remain at the present anchorage 
till iow water, when the reefs would be dry, and the channels be- 
tween them, if any such there were, would be visible: aiad should* 
nothing better then present itself, to steer north-westward, as close 
wlthm the line of the high breakers as possible, until an opening 
should be found. , 

The latitude observed to the north and south, at this fifth an- 
chorage amongst the reefs, was 20 53' 15"; longitude by time 
keeper, 15 1° 5' east. In the afternoon, I went upon the reef with a 
party of the gentlemen ; and the water being very clear round the 

Digitized by 


88 A VOYAGE TO [Ea*t Coast 

1802. edges, a new creation, as it was to us, but imitative of the old, was 
Saturday 9. there presented to our view. We had wheat sheaves, mushrooms, 
stags horns, cabbage leaves, and a variety of other forms, glowing 
under water with vivid tints of every shade betwixt green, purple, 
brown, and white; equalling in beauty and excelling in grandeur 
the most favourite parterre of the curious florist. These were dif- 
ferent species of coral and fungus, growing, as it were, out of the 
solid rock, and each had its peculiar form and shade of colouring ; 
but whilst contemplating the richness of the scene, we could not long 
forget with what destruction it was pregnant. 

Different corals in a dead state, concreted into a solid mass of 
a dull-white colour, composed the stone of the reef. The negro 
heads were lumps which stood higher than the rest; and being 
generally dry, were blackened by the weather ; but even in these, 
the forms of the different corals, and some shells were distinguisha- 
ble. The edges of the reef, but particularly on the outside where 
the sea broke, were the highest parts ; within, there were pools and 
holes containing live corals, sponges, and sea eggs and cucumbers;* 
and many enormous cockles (chama gigas) were scattered upon dif- 
ferent parts of the reef. At low water, this cockle seems most com- 
monly to lie half open ; but frequently closes with much noise ; and 
the water within the shells then spouts up in a stream, three or four 
feet high : it was from this noise and the spouting of the water, that 
we discovered them, for in other respects they were scarcely to be 
distinguished from the coral rock. A number of these cockles were 
taken on board the ship, and stewed in the coppers ; but they were 
too rank to be agreeable food, and were eaten by few. One of them 
weighed 47 jibs, as taken up, and contained gibs. 2 oz. of meat ; but 
this size is much inferior to what was found by captains Cook and 
Bligh, upon the reefs of the coast further northward, or to several 

* What we called sea cucumbers, from their shape, appears to have been the biche de 
fner, or trepmng ; of which the Chinese make a soup, much esteemed in that country for 
its supposed invigorating qualities. 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 89 

in the British Museum; and I have since seen single shells more than 1802. 
four times the weight of the above shells and fish taken together. Saturday 9. 

There were various small channels amongst the reefs, some 
of which led to the outer breakers, and through these the tide was 
rushing in when we returned to the ship ; but I could not any where 
see an opening sufficiently wide for the vessels. Low water took 
place at a quarter past three, which corresponded with the time of high 
water observed at the preceding anchorage. 

It was too late in the day to begin following the line of the 
high breakers to the north-westward ; but we lifted the anchor to 
remove further from the eastern reef, which was dry within a mile 
of the ship. The wind was light at south-east; and in steering 
westward, with a boat sounding a-head, we got into one of the nar- 
row streams of tide which carried us rapidly to the south-west; nor 
could the boat assist us across, so much was it twisted about by the % 
whirlpools. At six o'clock, being well clear of the stream, an anchor 
was dropped upon coral sand, in 30 fathoms ; at ten, when the ship 
swung to the ebb, the depth was 33 fathoms* and 28 at low water ; 
as, however, we had two-thirds of a cable out, some of the difference 
probably arose from the irregularity of the bottom. 

At daylight we steered N. N. W. ; but reefs were presently Sunday 10. 
seen all round in that direction, and the course, was altered for the 
small passage through which we had come on the 8th. Such, how- 
ever, was the change in the appearance of the reefs, that no passage 
could then be discovered ; and fearing to be mistaken, I dared not 
venture through, but took a more southern channel, where before 
no passage had appeared to exist. At nine o'clock, having sandy 
ground in 32 fathoms, and it being very difficult to distinguish the 
shoals at high water, the anchor was dropped in latitude 20 56^' south 
and longitude 150 54^' east. Between one and two in the afternoon, 
we steered W. N. W. and N. W. ; and meeting with a small dry reef 
at four, hauled up northward, following the line of the great norths 
ern reefs upon which the high breakers had beep seen, At half 
youih N 

Digitized by 


80 A VOYAGE TO \Ea*t Cout 

1802. past five we came to, in 26 fathoms sand and shells, having reefs 
Sunday io. from S. by E. f round by the east and north, to W. by S. ; but there 
were openings at N. N. W. \ W. and N. E. by E., and we had the 
pleasure to see high breakers, five or six miles distant in the latter 
direction. The latitude here, from an observation of the moon, was 
2o° 493-', and longitude 150* 48' by time keeper. 
Monday 11. Next morning, the brig and whale boat went a-head, and we 

steered north, after them ; the eastern opening was choaked up with 
small reefs, and we had scarcely entered that to the west when Mr. 
Murray made the signal for danger, and hauled the wind to the 
southward. We did the same, round two inner shoals ; and finding 
the bottom irregular, and more shallow than usual, dropped the 
stream anchor in 27 fathoms. The Lady Nelson was carried rapidly 
to the south-west, seemingly without being sensible of it, and I there- 
fore made the signal of recal ; but although favoured by a fresh 
breeze, she did not get up against the tide till past nine o'clock. 
We rode a great strain on the stream cable, and the ship taking a 
sudden sheer, it parted at the clinch and we lost the anchor; a 
bower was immediately let go; but the bottom being rocky, I feared 
to remain during the lee tide, and in a short time ordered it to be 
weighed. Mr. Murray had lost a kedge anchor, and was then riding 
by a bower ; and when the signal was made to weigh, he answered 
it by that of inability. The tide was, indeed, running past the brig 
at a fearful rate, and I feared it would pass over her bows ; for she 
lay in one of the narrow streams which came gushing through the 
small openings in the outer reef. So soon as our anchor was pur- 
chased, a boat's crew was sent to her assistance; and just before 
noon she got under sail. 

We beat up till one o'clock, towards the anchorage of the 
preceding evening ; but the reefs being deeply covered, they could 
not be distinguished one from the other ; and having found a good 
bottom, in 35 fathoms, we came to, and made signal for the brig to 
do the same. lieutenant Murray informed me that his anchor had 

Digitized by 


Aarrier Reefs.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 91 

come up with a palm broken off; and having only one bower left, 1802. 
he applied to me for another. Our anchor had swiveled in the stock ; Monday n. 
and the work required to it, with getting the last stream anchor out 
of the hold, and sending Mr. Murray two grapnels, which were all 
that our own losses could allow of being spared, occupied us till the 
evening. At low water, two reefs were seen, bearing N. i8 # to 41 E. , 
a third S. 72* E., and a fourth S. 74° W.; their distances being from 
two to four or "five miles. 

The loss of anchors we had this day sustained, deterred me 
from any more attempting the small passages through the Barrier - . 
Reef; in these, the tide runs with extraordinary violence, and the 
bottom is coral rock ; and whether with, or without wind, no situa- 
tion can be more dangerous. My anxious desire to get out to sea, 
and reach the North Coast before the unfavourable monsoon should 
set in, had led me to persevere amongst these intricate passages 
beyond what prudence could approve ; for had the wind come to 
blow strong, no anchors, in such deep water and upon loose sand, 
could have held the ship ; a rocky bottom cut the cables ; and to 
have been under sail in the night was certain destruction. I there- 
fore formed the determination, in our future search for a passage out, 
to avoid all narrow channels, and run along, within side the larger 
reefs, until a good and safe opening should present itself. This plan, 
which was dictated by a common regard to safety, might carry us 
far to the north-west, and delay our arrival in the Gulph of Car- 
pentaria ; yet I hoped not ; for captain Cook had found the flood 
tide to come from south-east after passing the Cumberland Islands, 
whereas before, it ran from the northward ; a circumstance which 
seemed to indicate a termination of the reefs, or a great opening in 
them, to the north or north-west of those islands. 

In the morning, we got under way and steered N. N. W.; but Tuesday 12. 
anchored again on finding the flood tide too strong to be stemmed 
with a light breeze. Our latitude at this tenth anchorage amongst 

Digitized by 


Wednes. 13. 

92 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1802. the reefs, was *o° 53' 10", from observations to the north and south, 
Tueaday is. and longitude by time keeper 150 42' east. At one o'clock our 
course was resumed, and continued till sunset in clear water ; when 
we came to, in 32 fathoms sand and shells, not far to the south of 
where the first high breakers had been seen, in the afternoon of the 
6th. A dry reef bore N. \ E., distant two and a half, and another 
E. \ S. one-and-half miles; and from the mast head others were seen 
at the back of them, extending from N. W. by N. to near S. E. by E. 

On going upon deck next morning at daybreak, to get the 
ship under way, I found her situation different to that wherein we 
had anchored in the evening. The wind had been light, and as 
usual in such cases, the cable was shortened in; and it appeared 
from the bearings, and from the soundings marked every hour on 
the log board, that between four and five in the morning, the anchor 
had been lifted by the tide, or dragged, two miles north-east amongst 
the reefs, from 33 into 28 fathoms ; where it had again caught. 
This change of place had not been perceived ; and it was difficult, 
from the circumstance having occurred at the relief of the watch, to 
discover with whom the culpable inattention lay ; but it might have 
been attended with fatal consequences. 

Having weighed the anchor, we steered westward with the 
brig and whale boat a-head, until past ten ; when the eastern breeze 
died away and the stream anchor was dropped in 30 fathoms, fine 
white sand. The reefs were then covered, and a dry bank, bearing 
N. W. by W. five or six miles, was the sole object above water ; and 
towards noon it was covered also. Between this bank and the great 
reef and breakers, was a space which seemed to be open ; but it was 
not sufficiently large, nor did the tide run with that regularity and 
strength, to induce a belief that, if there were a passage, it could 
be such as I desired for the vessels. We therefore again steered 
westward, on a breeze rising at N. W., until reefs were seen ex- 
tending southward from the dry bank, and we bore away along their 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs] TERRA AUSTRALIA 98 

eastern side. At sunset, the anchor was dropped in 36 fathoms, near isoa. 

. . October. 

to our situation on the 6th at noon ; the dry reefs bearing from Wednes. is. 
S. 20 to N. 21 W., distant from one to three miles. 

At daylight the breeze was still from the north-westward, and Thura. 14. 
our course was pursued to the south and south-west, close round the 
inner end of the reefs, till they trended west and we could no longer 
keep in with them. The Pine Peak of the northern Percy Isles, 
and several of the Cumberland Islands were then in sight ; and at 
noon our situation and bearings were as under. 

Latitude observed to the north and south, 

Longitude by time keeper, - ' 

Pine Peak, - 

Northumberland I., marked i, 

Cumberland I., marked k> 

, six others, 

The nearest of these isles was little better 

rounded with rocks, and was distant two leagues in the direction of 
N. 54 W. We tacked ship at one, and at four o'clock ; and an- 
chored at dusk, in 27 fathoms fine sand, about five miles to the 
N. N. W. of our noon's situation. 

The wind was at S. by E. in the morning, and we steered north- Friday 15. 
ward after the brig, in order to fall in with the reefs and prosecute 
our search for an opening ; in an hour they were visible, and we 
passed along their west side at the distance of a 'mile. Before nine 
o'clock the brig made signal for having only 17 fathoms, other 
reefs were discovered in the north-west, and the course was altered 
to pass within them. At eleven we rounded their west end ; and at 
noon were in latitude 20 38' 58", and from the bearing of the Cum- 
berland Isle k, in longitude 150 1' east. \Ve were now obliged to 
steer westward again, having reefs at the distance of two miles, from 
N. E. by E. to N. W. by W. ; and seeing that they extended 6nward, 
and the breeze was fresh, I hauled up for the Cumberland Island 
marked /, the largest yet seen, with the intention of anchoring there 

) — 


' a'S. 



11 E. 




30 E. 




40 W. 

N. 8 9 « 



30 w. 

S. 75 


54 SO w - 

' than 

a sand bank sur- 

Digitized by 


94 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast 

1802. for the night. The tide carried us too far to leeward, but we fetched 
Friday 15. a lesser island, /a, seven miles to the north ; and came to, in 17 
fathoms grey sand, one mile from a beach on its north-west side, 
and half a mile from the reef which surrounds the island. 
Saturday 16- Early in the morning I landed with a party of the gentlemen - 9 

and scrambled through a thick brush and over lumps of rock, to the 
highest part near the north end of the island. Hazy weather much 
contracted my view; but several new Cumberland Islands were 
visible, making up the number to fifteen, of which the greater part 
had not been seen by captain Cook. Amongst the bearings taken 
with a theodolite, were those of k and k a, which had been set from 
No. 4 of the Percy Isles. 

k, the extremes, bore - . S. 48 30' to 46° 40' E. 

£a, - - - S. 36 50 to 33 40 E. 

Ship at anchor, dist. one mile, N. 64 o W. 

From these bearings and the several latitudes, I ascertained the 
difference of longitude made from Upper Head to the ship, to be 
is' 37" west. 

This little island / 2 is of a triangular shape, and each side of it 
is a mile long ; it is surrounded by a coral reef which, as usual, pre- 
sented a beautiful piece of marine scenery. The stone which forms 
the basis of the island, and is scattered loosely over the surface, is a 
kind of porphyry ; a small piece of it, applied to the theodolite, did 
not affect the needle, although, on moving the instrument jt few 
yards southward, the east variation was increased 2 23'. Not 
much vegetable earth was contained amongst the stones on the sur- 
face, yet the island was thickly covered with trees and brush wood, 
whose foliage was not devoid of luxuriance. Pines grow here, but 
they were more abundant, and seemingly larger, upon some other 
of the islands, particularly on Iq, to the westward. There did not 
appear to be any fixed inhabitants ; but proofs of the island having 
been visited some months before, were numerous ; and upon the 
larger island /, there was a smoke. The time of high water coincided 

Digitized by 


Cumberland Isles.] TERRA AUSTRALIS 95 

with the swinging of the ship, and took place one hour before the ***** 
moon's passage, as it had done amongst the barrier reefs ; from ten Saturday 1$. 
to fifteen feet seemed to be the rise by the shore, and the flood came 
from the northward. 

We returned on board the ship at noon; but I deferred getting 
under way till next morning, on account of the wind blowing fresh, 
and some business to be executed which could not be attended to 
whilst amc?ng the reefs. This gave an opportunity of making fur- 
ther observations by the time keepers, from which it appeared that 
they gave only 8' g6",3 of longitude west from Upper Head, with 
the rates there found ; whereas by the survey, we had made 12' 37". 
The time keeper No. 520, taken alone, gave 11' 35^,8 ; and when the 
correction/afterwards found necessary in the Gulph of Carpentaria, 
is applied, the difference becomes 12' 41", almost exactly as by sur- 
vey. The previous positions of the ship amongst th# reefs, and 
wherever I had not any bearings of fixed points, have therefore 
been deduced from this time keeper. 

The latitude of the anchorage, from observa- 
tions to the north and south, was - - 20 45' 28" S. 

Longitude from a chain of bearings, connected 

with the fixed station in Broad Sound, 149 34 12 E. 

Variation of the theodolite, observed on the 
north-west beach of / 2, - - 7 39 east; 

but it differed on the north head of the island, from 7 to 9 23' east, 
in the space of a few yards. 

The variation amongst the Barrier Reefs has not been men- 
tioned ; but five azimuths and amplitudes were taken between the 
6th,^. m. and the 15th a. m. When corrected to the meridian, the 
extremes were 7 53' and 7 11' ; and the mean, in latitude «o* 44/, 
longitude 150 9 32', will be 7 30' east. 

At daylight on the 17th, the breeze was moderate at E. by N., Sunday 17. 
with fine weather ; and in steering northward, close to the wind, we 
passed three miles to leeward of a dry bank of rocks and sand. 

Digitized by 


96 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

1802. Several of the Cumberland Islands were in sight at noon, when our 

October. & 

Sunday if. situation and the most essential bearings were as under. 

Latitude, observed to the north and south, - «o° 23' 56" 
Longitude from bearings, - - 149 33$ 

Island /«, station on the north end, - S. 5 E. 

Other isles, large and small, from thence to N. 6j± W. 
Pentecost I. (of capt. Cook) , resembling a tower, S. 89 W. 
No reefs were in sight, nor in steering N.N. E. and N. E. by N., 
could any be distinguished from the mast head all the afternoon. 
At half past five we tacked and bore down to the brig; and then 
anchored in 31 fathoms, speckled sand and small stones, and sent a 
boat to lieutenant Murray with orders. 

Our latitude here, by an observation of the moon, was 20* 
10' south ; and now hoping we should not meet with any more inter- 
ruption from the reefs, I resolved to send the brig back to Port 
Jackson. The Lady Nelson sailed so ill, and had become so lee- 
wardly since the loss of the main, and part of the after keel, that 
she not only caused us delay, but ran great risk of being lost ; and 
instead of saving the crew of the Investigator, in case of accident, 
which was one of the principal objects of her attendance, it was too 
probable we might be called upon to render her that assistance. A 
good vessel of the same size I should have considered the greatest 
acquisition in Torres' Strait and the Gulph of Carpentaria ; but cir- 
cumstanced as was the Lady Nelson, and in want of anchors and 
cables which could not be spared without endangering our own 
safety, she was become, and would be more so every day, a burthen 
rather than an assistant to me. Liqytenant Murray was not much 
acquainted with the kind of service in which we were engaged ; but 
the zeal he had shown to make himself and his vessel of use to the 
voyage, made me sorry to deprive him of the advantage of con- 
tinuing with us ; and increased my regret at the necessity of parting 
from our little consort. 

The stores and provisions already supplied to the brig, were 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 97 

returned; and Mr. Murray spared us his old launch, to replace, in 1802. 
some sort, the cutter we had lost in Strong-tide Passage. Nan- sunday^r 
barre, one of the two natives, having expressed a wish to go back to 
Port Jackson, was sent to the Lady Nelson in the morning, with two Monday is. 
seamen exchanged for the same number of that vessel's crew; and 
Mr. Denis Lacy, who had been lent, returned back to the Investiga- 
tor. I wrote to His Excellency governor King, an account of our 
proceedings and discoveries upon the East Coast ; and requested a 
new boat might be built against our return to Port Jackson, and that 
the brig should be repaired and equipped ready to accompany me in 
the following year. 

At nine o'clock we got under way, and showed our colours to 
bid farewell to the Lady Nelson ; she steered southward for the 
Cumberland Islands, whilst our course was directed north-east, close 
to the wind. The brig was not out of sight when more reefs were 
discovered, extending from east to N. N. W.; and in pursuance of 
my plan to avoid small openings, we bore away to run along their 
inner side. At noon, the latitude was ig° 58' 20", and longitude Jby 
time keeper, 149 37' east. Reefs extended from E. £ N. to S. £ E., 
at the distance of one to three miles; and there were separate patches 
somewhat further, bearing W. by N. i N. and N. N. E. Between 
the first and last bearing was an opening of a good appearance, and 
we hauled up for it; but the water having shoaled to 12 fathoms, 
though no breakers were seen a-head, we kept away again ; and 
from that time till evening, passed a variety of reefs, hauling up 
between them to look into the openings, and bearing away when 
repulsed. None of these banks were dry, nor was there much 
breaking water upon them ; which made it probable that they were 
far within the outer line of the barrier. 

The breeze was fresh at south-east, and by sunset we had run 
eleven leagues upon various courses to the north-westward, with 
soundings from j 4 to 33 fathoms ; the bottom being rocky in the 
you 11, O 

Digitized by 


98 A VOYAGE TO {Ea$t Coast. 

1802. shallow, and sandy in the deeper parts. We were steering north- 
Monday is. wes *> a t the rate of six knots, when new reefs were discovered, from 
a-head to abaft the larbord beam ; upon which we clapped upon a 
wind to the southward, and just weathered them, passing through 
rippling water in 30 fathoms. Upon this occasion I felt very happy 
that the Lady Nelson was gone, for in all probability she could not 
have escaped this danger. Being now dark, it was too hazardous to 
stand on; and therefore, on finding a bottom of grey sand in 34 
fathoms, we came to with the best bower, veered to a whole cable, 
and sent down the top-gallant yards. The latitude here, from a 
meridian altitude of the moon, was 19 4&y', and the longitude 
149 13^; there was a small drain of ebb tide from the S. by W., 
until eleven o'clock, but no run was perceptible afterwards. 
Tuesday 19. In the morning, we saw the reef from N. £ E. to W. \ N., not 

further distant than two miles, and the northernmost of captain 
Cook's Cumberland Islands bore S. $6° W., about eight leagues. 
The wind was at E. S. E., blowing fresh; and our course was pur- 
sued along the south side of the reef till nine o'clock ; when it ter- 
minated, and we steered northward twelve miles, with no soundings 
at 3© fathoms. Another reef was then seen, bearing from N. ~ E. 
to W. N. W., and obliged us to steer westward again. 

The latitude at noon was 19 35' 15", and longitude by time 
keeper 148* 47 j'; four reefs then extended from E. by S. to 
N. W. by W., at the distance of two to five miles; the northern 
Cumberland Island bore S. 9°E., and the outer of two hills which I 
judged to be upon Cape Gloucester, S. 39^° W. This bearing, and 
captain Cook's latitude of the cape, would make its longitude to be 
148 sftj, or 15J east of what that great navigator lays it down; 
and it is to be observed, that from the time of passing Sandy Cape, 
my longitude had gradually become more eastward as we advanced 
along the coast. It has before been said, that captain Cook had no 
time keeper in his first voyage ; nor did he possess many of our 

Digitized by 


Barrier Reefs.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA » 

advantages in fixing the positions of places ; it cannot therefore be 1802. 
thought presumptuous, that I should consider the Investigator's Ion- Tuesday 19. 
gitude to be preferable. 

We ran from noon, five leagues W. \ N. along the south side 
of the reefs; and seeing their termination at two o'clock, steered 
N. N. W., Holborne Isle then bearing S. 53 W., about four leagues. 
At half past four we had a small reef two or three miles to the 
W. S. W., and a larger four miles to the N. E. ; and behind this last 
was one more extensive, with high breakers on the outside, reaching 
from N. E. by N. to E. \ S. I hauled up with the intention of anchor- 
ing under the lee of these reefs, till morning ; but not finding suffi- 
cient shelter against the sea, we tacked and stretched southward for 
the clear water between the reefs and the land. At sunset, the 
variation from amplitude was 5 39' east; Holborne Isle bore S. by W. 
from the mast head, and no breakers were in sight. This tack was 
prolonged, under treble-reefed top sails, till ten o'clock; when a 
light was seen bearing S. by E. f E., probably upon the isle, and we 
stood to the northward. 

The wind blew fresh from the eastward all night, and raised 
a short swell which tried the ship more than any thing we had en- 
countered from the time of leaving Port Jackson ; and I was sorry 
to find, brought on her former leakiness, to the amount of five inches 
of water per hour. We tacked to the south, soon after mid-night, 
and to the northward at three in the morning. Holborne Isle wednes. 20. 
was seen bearing S. 6° W., four or five leagues, at daylight ; and at 
seven we passed betwen three small reefs, of which the easternmost 
had been set at W. S. W. on the preceding afternoon. In half an 
hour, when the latitude from the moon was 19* 14/, and longitude 
by time keeper 148 siy # , distant high breakers were seen to the 
north and eastward ; the nearest small reef bore S. W. \ W., two 
miles, and a much larger one extended from N. £ E. to W. by N. 
The passage between these two being three miles wide, we bore 
away through it ; and in following the south side of the great reef, 

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100 .A VOYAGE TO [Ea$t Coast. 

low. left another, five or six miles long, on the larbord hand, the passage 
Wednet. so. being equally wide with the former, and the least depth ai fathoms. 
Soon after ten o'clock, we steered northward, round the west end of 
the great reef 

At noon, the latitude from observations to the north and south 
was 19 8' 15*', and longitude by time keeper, 147* 59' east. No land 
was in sight, and the high breakers were lost in the eastern quarter ; 
butwe had detached reefs in the N. E., theN. E. by N., and W. N. W., 
distant from two to five miles. Towards the north there was six 
points of clear water, and I steered onward till near three o'clock ; 
when, besides two new reefs already passed, one on each side, we had 
five others : two in the E. by N. at the distances of one and five 
miles, one E. S. E. four miles, another N. W. by W. six miles, 
and a fifth N. W. by N. three miles. Whether to steer onward 
amongst these, and trust to finding shelter for the night, or to run 
south-westward towards the land, and get within all the reefs be- 
fore night came on, was an important, but difficult point to decide. 
The reefs in sight were small, and could not afford shelter 
against the sea which was breaking high upon them ; but these 
breakers excited a hope that we might, even then, be near an open- 
ing in the barrier ; and although caution inclined to steering back 
towards the land, this prosjpct of an outlet determined me to pro- 
ceed, at least until four o'clock, at the chance of finding either larger 
reefs for shelter, or a clear sea. We were successful. At four, the 
depth was 43 fathoms, and no reefs in sight ; and at six, a heavy 
swell from the eastward and a depth of 66 fathoms were strong 
assurances that we had at length gained the open sea. 

The topsails were then treble reefed, and we hauled to the 
wind, which blew strong at E. S. E., with squally weather. At eight, 
hove to and sounded : no ground with 75 fathoms ; and at twelve, 
none with 115. But the wind unfortunatel) r headed two points ; and 
the probability of meeting unknown reefs being thereby much in- 

Thuw. si. creased, I tacked to the southward at one in the morning ; preferring, 

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Barrier Reefs.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 101 

if we must of necessity be again driven amongst them, to come in 18 °*- 
where we knew of an opening, rather than where their formation 
was totally unknown . 

At four, tacked ship to the northward, and sounded with 100 
fathoms, no bottom. At daylight, no reefs could be seen from the 
mast head, the wind had moderated its strength, and we made all 
possible sail to the N. by E. ;. keeping two points free, to make the 
ship go through the water. We now considered ourselves entirely 
clear of the reefs ; but at noon high breakers were seen extending 
from West to N. N. W., at the distance of six or seven miles, and 
we hauled up a point more to the eastward. Our latitude was 17* 
54', longitude- 148 37', and. at the depth of 100 fathoms there was 
no ground ; the variation observed in the morning, with three azi- 
muth compasses, was 6° 8' east, corrected to the meridian. Another 
reef was discovered at two o'clock, lying nearly three leagues 
to the northward of the former ; but although there were many 
boobies, and tropic and man-of-war birds about, no more dangers 
had been descried at dusk ; nor did we see any more until approach- 
ing Torres' Strait. 

I shall conclude this chapter with some general remarks on the 
reefs, which form so extraordinary a barrier to this part of New South 
Wales ; and amongst which we sought fourteen days, and sailed 
more than five hundred miles, before a passage could be found 
through them, out to sea. 

The easternmost parts of the barrier seen in the Investigator, 
lie nearly in 21 south and 151 10' east; but there* can be no doubt that 
they are connected with the reefs lying to the southward, discovered 
in 1797 by captain Campbell of the brig Deptford ; and probably 
also with those further distant, which captain Swain of the Eliza fell 
in with in the following year. If so, the Barrier Reefs will commence 
as far south-eastward as the latitude a»° 50' and longitude about 
152 40', and possibly still further ; Break-sea Spit is a coral reef, 
and a connexion under water, betwen it and the barrier, seems 

> -■ 

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by Google 

102 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. not improbable. The opening by which we passed out, is in 18? 5a', 
and 148° 2' ; so that, did the Barrier Reefs terminate here, their extent 
would be near 350 miles in a straight line ; and in all this space, there 
seems to be no large opening. Mr. Swain did, indeed, get out at 
the latitude 22 ; but it was by a long, and very tortuous channel. 

Of what extent our opening may be, is uncertain ; but since captain 
Cook had smooth water in running to the west and northward to 
Cape Tribulation, where he first saw the reefs, it should seem to be 
not very great; certainly, as I think, not exceeding twenty, and 
perhaps not five leagues. I therefore assume it as a great probabi- 
lity, that with the exception of this, and perhaps several small open- 
ings, our Barrier Reefs are connected with the Labyrinth of captain 
Cook ; and that they reach to Torres' Strait and to New Guinea, in 
g° south ; or through 14 of latitude and 9 of longitude ; which is not 
to be equalled in any other known part of the world. 

The breadth of the barrier seems to be about fifteen leagues in 
its southern part, but diminishes to the northward ; for at the North- 
umberland Islands it is twelve, and near our opening the breadth is 
not more than seven or eight leagues. The reefs seen in lati- 
tude 17^°, after we got through, being forty leagues from the coast, 
I consider to be distinct banks out at sea ; as I do those discovered 
by Mons. de Bougainville in 15£ , which lie still further off. So far 
northward as I explored the Barrier Reefs, they are unconnected 
with the land ; and continue so to latitude 16 ; for, as before said, 
captain Cook saw none until he had passed Cape Tribulation. 

An arm of the »sea is inclosed between the barrier and the 
coast, which is at first twenty-five or thirty leagues wide ; but is 
contracted to twenty, abreast of Broad Sound, and to nine leagues at 
Cape Gloucester ; from whence it seems to go on diminishing, till, 
a little beyond Cape Tribulation, reefs are found close to the shore. 
Numerous islands lie scattered in this inclosed space ; but so far as we 
are acquainted, there are no other coral banks in it than those by which 
some of the islands are surrounded ; so that being sheltered from 

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Barrier Reefs.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 109 

the deep waves of the ocean, it is particularly well adapted to the 1802. 


purposes of a coasting trade. The reader will be struck with the 
analogy which this arm of the sea presents to one in nearly the same 
, latitude of the northern hemisphere. The Gulph of Florida is formed 
by the coast of America on the west, and by a great mass of islands 
and shoals on the east ; which shoals are also of coral. 

On the outside of the barrier, the sea appears to be generally 
unfathomable ; but within, and amongst the reefs, there are sound- 
ings every where. Nor is the depth very unequal, where the bottom 
is sandy ; but like the breadth of the reefs and the arm they inclose, 
it diminishes as we advance northward, from 60 to 48, to 35, and to 
30 fathoms near our opening ; and to 20 at Cape Tribulation. The 
further to leeward, the shallower the water, seems to be a law 
amongst coral reefs. 

There is some variation in the tide in different parts of the bar- 
rier, but the most general rise is about two fathoms ; abreast of the 
Northumberland Islands, however, where the flood from the south- 
east seems to meet that from the northward, it is three fathoms, and 
perhaps more. The time of high water there, and also at the eastern 
Cumberland Islands, is eleven hours after the moon's passage ; but 
it probably accelerates north-westward, to the opening, and then 
retards further on : at Endeavour River, captain Cook, found it to be 
high water an hour and a half earlier than is above given. 

It has been said, that the width of the opening by which we 
got out to sea, is uncertain ; it is undoubtedly four, and possibly 
more leagues, but there are many small, unconnected banks in it. 
To a ship desiring access to any part of the coast, south of Endeavour 
River, I should certainly recommend her to enter the inclosed sea by 
the way of Break-sea Spit, if able to choose her own route ; but the 
question is, whether a ship driven by stress of weather, or by acci- 
dent, to seek the coast, might steer for the opening with a fair pros- 
pect of passing through in safety ? I certainly think she might ; with 
the precaution of not attempting the passage late in the day. The 

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104 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

igo9. marks to be given for it, are, the latitude 18 5a 7 , longitude 148 s # , 
variation 6° east with the ship's head north or south, and the sound- 
ings. When right off the opening, bottom will be found at from 
70 to 40 fathoms before any reefs come in sight ; whereas, if breakers 
be seen and no soundings can be obtained, it may be certainly con- 
cluded that the ship is not in the fair way for this opening, and pro- 
bably, that no large opening exists in that part of the barrier. On 
getting soundings and afterwards making the reefs near the situa- 
tion above given, a ship should push through the first opening of two 
miles wide that presents itself, and steer south-westward amongst 
the inner reefs for the land ; and it will not be many hours, perhaps 
minutes, before she will find smooth water and anchoring ground. 
The commander who proposes to make the experiment, must not, 
however, be one who throws his ship's head round in a hurry, so 
soon as breakers are announced from aloft ; if he do not feel his 
nerves strong enough to thread the needle, as it is called, amongst 
the reefs, whilst he directs the steerage from the mast head, I would 
strongly recommend him not to approach this part of New South 

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Ibward* Torre* Strait.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 105 


Passage from the Barrier Reefs to Torres' Strait. Reefs named Eastern 
Fields. Pandora's Entrance to the Strait. Anchorage at Murray's 
Islands. Communication with the inhabitants. Half-way Island. 
Notions on the formation of coral islands in general. Prince of Wales's 
Islands, with remarks on them. Wallis' Isles. Entrance into the 
Gulph of Carpentaria. Review of the passage through Torres' Strait. 

I he last reefs were out of sight in the evening of Oct. si, and our isos. 
course was continued for Torres' Strait ; but the barrier was yet at ^^l\ m 
too little distance, not to cause apprehension of straggling reefs ; 
and I thought it too hazardous to run in the night, during this passage. 

At noon of the sad, our latitude was 16 39', longitude Friday 22. 
148°43', and there was no bottom at 150 fathoms; nor was any piatexii.) 
thing unusual to be seen, unless it were tropic and man-of-war birds, 
and gannets. The Bdture de Diane of Mons. de Bougainville 
should lie about thirty-eight leagues to the N. E. by E., and his 
western reefs about twenty-eight leagues to the N. N. W. £ W., of 
this situation ; and to them, or perhaps some nearer banks, the birds 
might probably belong.* A piece of land is marked to the south- 

* Bougainville's longitude of the north end of Aurora Island, one of his Archipel de 
Grandes Cyclades (the New Hebrides of Cook), differed 54' of longitude to the east of 
captain Cook's position ; and it seems very probable that it was as much too great when the 
above dangers were discovered. Admitting this to be the case, the situations extracted 
irom his voyage (II, 161, 164) will be as under : 

B&ture de Diane 15° 41' south 150° 25" east of Greenwich. 
Reef - - 15 S4f - 148 6 
Second reef, - 15 17 - 147 57 

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106 A VOYAGE TO [Ea$tCoa$t. 

isot. W est of the first reefs, but its existence is very doubtful'; for all that 


Friday 22. M. de Bougainville says of it (II, 163) is, that " some even thought 
" they saw low land to the south-west of the breakers." 

Saturday**. Next day at noon, we were in 15* 12' south, and 149 *' east ; 

the current had set half a knot to the N. N. W., and many of the 
former kinds of birds, as also boobies and petrels, were seen. Hitherto 
we had kept up nearly to the wind, in order to gain an offing from 

Sunday 84. the coast and Barrier Reefs ; but next morning the course was directed 
N. W. At noon, latitude 13 47', longitude 148 39' : many boobies 

Monday 85. seen, and some petrels and tropic birds. On the 25th, a shag flew 

round the ship, and a large flock of petrels was seen : latitude 

(Atiaa, at noon, 12* *g, longitude 147 23', and the current setting more 


,; than a mile an hour to the west. At eight in the evening, when we 
hauled to the wind, there was no bottoiji at 130 fathoms. 
Wednea. 27. In the morning of the 27th, a small land bird, resembling a 

linnet, was seen ; at noon we were in io* 28' south and 146 f east, 
and the current had set W. N. W., three quarters of a mile an hour, 
since the 25th. The wind, which had been at south-east, then shifted 
suddenly to north, and blew fresh with squally weather ; but at 
midnight it veered to south-east again. These changes were accom- 
panied with thunder, lightning and rain ; indications, as I feared, of 
the approaching north-west monsoon. We lay to, during a part 
Thun.28. of the night; and at day-break bore away again upon our north- 
western course. At eight o'clock, breakers were seen extending 
from S. W. by W. to N. by. E., distant from two to six miles ; there 
was a small gap in them, bearing N. by W.|W., but we hauled up 
north-east, to windward of the whole, and made more sail. I ven- 
tured to bear away at ten ; and at noon our latitude was g° 51' 36", 
and longitude 145 45 *' by time keeper. No reefs were then in sight; 
but in steering west, we passed through a rippling of tide or current, 
and a single breaker was seen from the mast head, at three o'clock, 
bearing S. W. four or five miles. 

These reefs lie nearly a degree to the eastward of those first 

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Towards Torrej Strait.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS 1OT 

seen by the captains Edwards and Bligh, when entering Torres* i*». 
Strait ; for the north-eastern extreme lies in io° s' south, and 145* Thursday is. 
45* east. From this position, the eastern line of the breakers ex- 
tended ten or twelve miles to the S. S. W., and the single breaker 
afterwards seen, lies about six leagues to the W.N. W. ; but how 
far they may be connected, or what the extent of the reefs may be to 
the south-west, could not be seen. In the belief that this was the 
first discovery of these coral banks, I called them the Eastern Fields ; 
intending thereby to designate their position with respect to the 
other reefs of Torres' Strait. 

Our latitude at noon was exactly that of the opening by which 
captain Edwards of the Pandora had entered the Strait in 1791 ; and 
which I call the Pandora's Entrance. This opening appeared to be 
preferable to that further northward, by which captain Bligh and 
Mr. Bampton had got within the reefs; more- especially as it led 
directly for Murray's Islands, where, if possible, I intended to anchor. 
Our course was therefore steered west ; and seeing no more reefs, 
it was continued until eight in the evening, at which time we hauled 
to the wind, having no bottom at 105 fathoms. 

At daylight, after sounding ineffectually with 100 fathoms, we 
bore away on our western course. Two reefs were seen at six o'clock; 
the one bearing N. by W. \ W. three, and the other W. by N. £N. 
four miles. They seemed to be small, and unconnected ; but in all 
probability were parts of those which form the north side of the 
Pandora's Entrance, and which captain Bligh, who saw them more 
to the northward, named collectively, Portlock's Reef. The situation 
of the southernmost part, deduced from the preceding and following 
noons, will be 9° 48' south, and 144° 45' east. 

After passing these reefs, our course was west, by compass ; and 
nothing further was descried till eleven o'clock ; breakers then came 
in sight a-head, and we hauled up north-east, till noon ; when the ob- 
served latitude from both sides was 9° 36' 55", longitude 144 13', and 
the depth 50 fathoms on a bottom of fine, white sand. The reef was 

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108 A VOYAGE TO [Ea$t CoatL 

i8o?. distant one mile and a half in the nearest part, and three miles at 

* Octofc>cr 

Friday S9. the extremes, which bore N. 15° E. and S. 6o° W. ; a sand bank or 
key upon it bore W. | S., and is probably dry at all times, for it wasr 
then near high water. 

Finding by the latitude that we had been set considerably to 
the north, and were out of the parallel of Murray's Islands, I tacked 
to the S. S. W. ; and at two o'clock, the largest island was seen 
bearing S. $8° W. about five leagues. Soon afterward, a reef came 
in sight to the south-east, extending in patches toward the islands ^ 
and presently another was distinguished to the westward, from the 
mast head, which took nearly a parallel direction, the passage be- 
tween them being about four miles wide. We steered along the lee 
side of the eastern reef, at the distance of a mile, with soundings 
from 29 to 24 fathoms, coral sand, until four o'clock ; the reef then 
(Attu* trended more southward, and we edged away for the islands, of 


View 10.) which Mr. Westall sketched the appearance. At half past ftve, the 
largest island bore S. 36°E. to 28° W., one mile and a half; and 
there being more reefs coming in sight to the westward, the anchor 
was immediately let go in 20 fathoms, coarse sand and shells. The 
north and east sides of the island are surrounded by a reef, which 
may probably include the two smaller isles on its south-west side ; 
but it is totally unconnected with the reefs to the north-east. These 
appear to be a northern continuation of the vast bank, on the outside 
of which the Pandora sailed as far as ii£ # south, and in the chart of 
captain Edwards' track, published by Mr. Dalrymple, it is marked 
as surrounding the islands ; whereas it is at least four miles distant 
from the reef which probably does surround them. 

A number of poles standing up in various places, more espe- 
cially between the islands, appeared at a distance like the masts of 
canoes, and made me apprehend that the inhabitants of the Strait 
had collected a fleet here ; but on approaching nearer, the poles were 
found to be upon the reefs, and were probably set up for some pur- 
pose connected with fishing. We had scarcely anchored when fee- 

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Torres* Strait.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 100 

tween forty and fifty Indians came off, in three canoes. They would 1802. 
not come along-side of the ship, but lay off at a little distance, holding Friday 89. 
up cocoa nuts, joints of bamboo filled with water, plantains, bows 
and arrows, and vociferating tooree ! tooree ! and mammoosee! A barter 
soon commenced, and was carried on in this manner : a hatchet, or 
other piece of iron (tooree) being held up, they offered a bunch of 
green plantains, a bow and quiver of arrows, or what they judged 
would be received in exchange ; signs pf acceptance being made, the 
Indian leaped over-board with his barter, and handed it to a man 
who went down the side to him ; and receiving his hatchet, swam 
back to the canoe. Some delivered their articles without any distrust 
of the exchange, but this was not always the case. Their eagerness 
to get tooree was great, and at first, any thing of that same metal was 
received; but afterwards, if a nail were held up to an Indian, he 
shook his head, striking the edge of his right hand upon the left 
arm, in the attitude of chopping ; and he was well enough under- 

At sunset, two of the canoes returned to Murray's Island, 
paddling to windward with more velocity than one of our boats could 
have rowed; the third set a narrow, upright sail, between two masts 
in the fore part of the canoe, and steered north-westward, as I 
judged, for the Darnley's Island of captain Bligh. 

I did not forget that the inhabitants of these islands had made 
an attack upon the Providence and Assistant in 1792 (Introduction, 
p. xxv ) ; nor that Mr. Bampton had some people cut off at Darnley's 
Island in 1 793 ( p. xxxiv — xxxix ) . The marines were therefore kept 
under arms, the guns clear, and matches lighted ;. and officers were 
stationed to watch every motion, one to each canoe, so long as they 
remained near the ship. Bows and arrows were contained in all the 
canoes ; but no intention of hostility was manifested by the Indians, 
unless those who steered for Darnley's Island might be supposed to 
go for assistance. 

We did not get under way in the morning, until the sun was Saturday so> 

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110 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

18OT. high enough for altitudes to be taken for the time keepers. Soon 
/feturday^o. ^^ r daylight, the natives were with us again, in seven canoes ; some 
of them came wider the stern, and fifteen or twenty of the people 
ascended on board, bringing in their hands pearl-oyster shells and 
necklaces of cowries ; with which, and some bows and arrows, they 
obtained more of the precious tooree. Wishing to secure the friend- 
ship and confidence of these islanders to such vessels as might here- 
after pass through Torres' Strait, and not being able to distinguish 
any chief amongst them, I selected the oldest man, and presented 
him with a hand-saw, a hammer and nails, and some other trifles ; of 
all which we attempted to show him the use, but I believe without 
success; for the poor old man became frightened, on finding himself 
to be so particularly noticed. 

• At this time we began to heave short for weighing, and made 
signs to the Indians to go down into their canoes, which they 
"seemed unwilling to comprehend ; but on the seamen going aloft to 
loose the sails, they went hastily down the stern ladder and ship's 
sides, and shoved off; and before the anchor was up they paddled 
back to the shore, without our good understanding having suffered 
any interruption. 

The colour of these Indians is a dark chocolate; they are 
active, muscular men, about the middle size, and their countenances 
expressive of a quick apprehension. Their features and hair appeared 
to be similar to those of the natives of New South Wales, and they 
also go quite naked; but some of them had ornaments ofshell work, 
and of plaited hair or fibres of bark, about their waists, necks, and 
ancles. Our friend Bongaree could not understand any thing of 
their language, nor did they pay much attention to him; he seemed, 
indeed, to feel his own inferiority, and made but a poor figure 
amongst them. The arms of these people have been described in 
the voyage of captain Bligh (Introduction, p. xxiii); as also the 
canoes, of which the annexed plate, from a drawing by Mr. Westall, 
gives a correct representation. The two masts, when not wanted, 

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\ - 




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Torres 9 Strait.-] TERRA AUSTRALIS 111 

are laid along the gunwales ; when set up, they stand abreast of isoa. 
each other in the fore part of the canoe, and seemed to be secured Saturday 30. 
by one set of shrouds, with a stay from one mast head to the other. 
The sail is. extended between them ; but when going with a side 
wind, the lee mast is brought aft by a back stay, and the sail then 
stands obliquely. In other words, they brace up by setting in the 
head of the lee mast, and perhaps the foot also ; and can then lie 
within seven points of the wind, and possibly nearer. This was 
their mode, so far as a distant view would admit of judging ; but 
how these long cajioes keep to the wind, and make such way as they 
do, without any after sail, I am at a loss to know. 

Murray's largest island is nearly two miles long, by something 
more than one in breadth ; it is rather high land, and the hill at its 
western end may be seen from a ship's deck at the distance of eight 
or nine leagues, in a clear day. The two smaller isles seemed to 
be single hills, rising abruptly from the sea, and to be scarcely 
accessible ; nor did we see upon them any fires, or other marks of 
inhabitants. On the shores of the large island were many huts, 
surrounded by palisades, apparently of bamboo; cocoa-nut trees 
were abundant, both on the low grounds and the sides of the hills, 
and plantains, with some other fruits, had been brought to us. 
There were many Indians sitting in groups upon the shore, and the 
seven canoes which came off to the ship in the morning, contained 
from ten to twenty men each, or together, about a hundred. If we 
suppose these hundred men to have been one half of what belonged 
to the islands, and to the two hundred men, add as many women 
and three hundred children, the population of Murray's Isles will 
amount to seven hundred ; of which nearly the whole must belong 
to the larger island. 

The latitude of the highest hill, deduced from that of the ship 
at the following noon, is 9 54/ south, and longitude by the time 
keeper corrected, 144 2' east ; being 3' north, and so 7 east of its posi- 
tion by captain Edwards. A regular tide of about one knot an hour set 

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H2 A VOYAGE TO [Eati Cocxt. 

1S02. E. by S. and W. by N., past the ship ; and by her swinging, it was 
Saturday so. high water at half an hour after midnight, or about ten hours and a 
half after the moon had passed over the meridian. The bottom 
seemed to be loose at our anchorage; but were these islands exam- 
ined, it is probable that better ground and shelter would be found on 
their western sides. I distinguished from the mast head the north 
end of a reef, three miles distant to the W. N. W.; but could not 
see whether it joined the reef surrounding the large island. At 
N. N. W. ^ W. four miles, was the south-west end of another reef; 
and when we got under way at half past eight in the morning, our 
course was directed between the two. 

Ripplings of a suspicious appearance caused the whale boat to 
be kept a-head for some time ; but finding no ground upon them 
with 30 fathoms, and the breeze becoming fresh, the boat was called 
on board. At g h 40' the following bearings were taken : 

Darnley's Island, highest part, - N. 39* W. 

Murray's Islands, the largest, S. 58° to 40 E. 

■ two smaller, nearly touching, S. 36 to 27 E. 

Rippling off the N. end of a reef, dist. £ mile, - S. W. \ W. 

East end of a reef, distant \\ miles, - - N. 6 E. 

(Atlas, Mr. Westell's second view of Murray's Isles was taken from this 
n. xviii. 
view 11.) position. 

Knowing the difficulties experienced by captain Bligh and Mr. 

Bampton in the northern part of the strait, I kept as much up to the 

southward, for Cape York, as the direction of the reefs would admit. 

On the windward side, we had a long chain of them extending 

W. S. W. to a great distance ; but its breadth was not great, as the 

blue water was seen beyond it, from the mast head. On the north 

side there was no regular chain, and but one reef of much extent ; 

small patches were indeed announced every now and then, from 

aloft, but these did not cause us much impediment; the ^greatest was 

from two right in our track ; but being a mile apart, we passed 

between them at eleven o'clock. 

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Torres' Strait] TERRA AUSTRALIA 118 

Until noon, we had no soundings with from 95 to go fathoms isoa. 


of line, but then found broken coral and shells at the latter depth ; Saturday so. 
the great reefs to windward were two or three miles distant, stretch- 
ing south-west, and our situation and bearings were as under : 

Latitude observed, - - 9° 53 j S. 

Longitude from time keeper, - - 143 42 E. 

Murray's Isles, the largest, highest part, S. 88j E. 

the westernmost, highest part, - S. 8ii E. 

Darnley's I., highest part, obscure, - N. 10 E. 
A small, low isle, - To the westward. 

Nearest reef, distant two miles, - S. 6j m to N. 43 W. 
Having a fresh breeze at S. E. by E., we ran at the rate of six 
knots, following the chain of reefs lying to windward. On tl\e other 
side, there were still very few reefs; but several low isles were 
distinguished, similar to that seen at noon ; these were small, but 
seemingly well covered with wood, and appertain, as I judge, to the 
group called by Mr. Bampton, Cornwallis' Range. At half past 
two, we passed between reefs one mile and a half asunder, having 
no ground at 25 fathoms ; and then the chain which had been fol- 
lowed from Murray's Isles, either terminated or took a more southern 
direction. Another small, woody isle was then in sight, nearly in 
our track, at four it bore N. 6f W., two-and-half miles ; and not 
seeing any other island a-head to afford shelter for the night, we 
bore away round the south end of its reef, and came to an anchor 
in 17 fathoms, coral sand. 

Cent, of the island, dist. i£ miles, bore, - S. 83° E. 

The surrounding reef, - N. 78° to S. 12 E. 

A woody isle, westmost of five seen this p. m., N. 9 W. 
A dry sand, set from the mast head, - S. W. | S. 

A boat was lowered down, and I went on shore with the 
botanical gentlemen, to look about the island. It is little better than 
a bank of sand, upon a basis of coral rock ; yet it was covered with 
shrubs and trees so thickly, that in many places they were impene- 
vol. 11. Q 

Digitized by 


114 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1802. trable. The north-western part is entirely sand, but there grew 

s«turdbyso. u P° n ft numbers of pandanus trees, similar to those of the east coast 

of New South Wales ; and around many of them was placed a 

circle of shells of the chamagigas, or gigantic cockle, the intention of 

which excited my curiosity. 

It appeared that this little island was visited occasionally by 
the Indians, who obtained from it the fruit of the pandanus, and 
probably turtle, for the marks of them were seen ; and the reef 
furnishes them with cockles, which are of a superior size here to 
those we had found upon the reefs of the East Coast. There being 
no water upon the island, they seem to have hit upon the following 
expedient to obtain it : Long slips of bark are tied round the smooth 
stems of the pandanus, and the loose ends are led into the shells of the 
cockle, placed underneath. By these slips, the rain which runs down 
the branches and stem of the tree, is conducted into the shells, and 
fills them at every considerable shower ; and as each shell will con- 
tain two or three pints, forty or fifty thus placed under different trees 
will supply a good number of men. A pair of these cockle shells, 
bleached in the sun, weighed a hundred and one pounds ; but still 
they were much inferior in size to some I have since seen. 

The fruit of the pandanus, as it is used by these Indians and by the 
natives of Terra Australis, affords very little nourishment. They suck 
the bottom part of the drupes, or separated nuts, as we do the leaves 
of the artichoke ; but the quantity of pulp thus obtained, is very 
smalls and to my taste, too astringent to be agreeable. In the third 
volume of the Asiatic Researches, the fruit of the pandanus is de- 
scribed as furnishing, under the name of Mellori, an important article 
of food to the inhabitants of the Nicobar Islands ; and in Mauritius, 
one of these species is planted for it long and fibrous leaves, of 
which sacks, mats, and bags for coffee and cotton are m ad 

This little island /or rather the surrounding reef, which is three 
or four miles long, affords shelter from the south-east winds ; and 
being at a moderate day's run from Murray's Isles, it forms a con- 

Digitfeed by 


Torre* Stradf] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 115 

venient anchorage for the night to a ship passing through Torres' i 808 - 
Strait : I named it Half-way Island. It is scarcely more than a mile Saturday so. 
in circumference, but appears to be increasing both in elevation and 
extent. At no very distant period of time, it was one of those banks 
produced by the washing up of sand and broken coral, of which 
most reefs afford instances, and those of Torres' Strait a great many. 
These banks are in different stages of progress : some, like this, are 
become islands, but not yet habitable ; some are above high-water 
mark, but destitute of vegetation ; whilst others are overflowed with 
every returning tide. 

It seems to me, that when the animalcules which form the 
corals at the bottom of the ocean, cease to live, their structures ad- 
here to each other, by virtue either of the glutinous remains within, 
or of some property in salt water ; and the interstices being gradually 
filled up with sand and broken pieces of coral washed by the sea, 
which also adhere, a mass of rock is at length formed. Future races 
of these animalcules erect their habitations upon the rising bank, and 
die in their turn to increase, but principally to elevate, this monu- 
ment of their wonderful labours. The care taken to work perpen- 
dicularly in the early stages, would mark a surprising instinct in 
these diminutive creatures. Their wall of coral, for the most part 
in situations where the winds are constant, being arrived at the sur- 
face, affords a shelter, to leeward of which their infant colonies may 
be safely sent forth ; and to this their instinctive foresight it seems to 
be owing, that the windward side of a reef exposed to the open 
sea, is generally, if not always the highest part, and rises almost per* 
pendicular, sometimes from the depth of 200, and perhaps many 
more fathoms. To be constantly covered with water, seems neces- 
sary to the existence of the animalcules, for they do not work, except 
in holes upon the reef, beyond low- water mark ; but the coral sand 
and other broken remnants thrown up by the sea, adhere to the 
rock, and form a solid mass with it, as high as the common tides 
reach. That elevation surpassed, the future remnants, being rarely 

Digitized by 


116 A VOYAGE TO [North Coa$t. 

1802. covered, lose their adhesive property ; and remaining in a loose state, 
Saturday so. form what is usually called a key, upon the top of the reef. The new 
bank is not long in being visited by sea birds ; salt plants take root 
upon it, and a soil begins to be formed ; a cocoa nut, or the drupe 
of a pandanus is thrown on shore ; land birds visit it and deposit the 
seeds of shrubs and trees ; every high tide, and still more every 
gale, adds something to the bank ; the form of an island is gradually 
assumed ; and last of all comes man to take possession. 

Half-way Island is well advanced in the above progressive 
state; having been many years, probably some ages, above the 
reach of the highest spring tides, or the wash of the surf in the 
heaviest gales. I distinguished, however, in the rock which forms 
its basis, the sand, coral, and shells formerly thrown up, in a 
more or less perfect state of cohesion ; small pieces of wood, pumice 
stone, and other extraneous bodies which chance had mixed with 
the calcareous substances when the cohesion began, were in- 
closed in the rock ; and in some cases were still separable from it 
without much force. The upper part of the island is a mixture of 
the same substances in a loose state, with a little vegetable soil ; and 
is covered with the casuarina and a variety of other trees and shrubs, 
which give food to paroquets, pigeons, and some other birds ; to 
whose ancestors it is probable, the island was originally indebted for 
this vegetation. 

The latitude of Half-way Island, deduced from that of the pre- 
ceding and following noons, is io p 8' south, and longitude by time 
keeper corrected, 143 18' east. From the time of anchoring, 
to nine at night, there was a set past ihe ship to the north-east, of 
half a knot ; it ceased for three hours, then recommencing at a slower 
rate, ran to the same point. Thus far in the strait, the current had 
been found to run at the rate of fourteen miles a day to the 
westward ; and the above set might have been an eddy under the 
lee of the reef, for it seemed too irregular to be a tide. 
Sunday 31. At daylight in the morning the south-east trade blew fresh, 

Digitized by 


Torres' Strait] TERRA AUSTRALIA 117 

with squally weather. We steered south-westward, passing at seven isra. 

. . 1 October. 

o'clock between two dry sands, three or four miles apart, with a Sunday si. 
depth of 15 fathoms ; at eight, another dry bank was left two miles 
to the southward, and a small, low island set at N. by W., two or 
three leagues. From this time, and running at the rate of seven 
knots, nothing was seen until ten ; a dry sand then bore N. 78 W. f 
two miles and a half, and two more low isles were seen to the north- 
ward ; the soundings had become regular, between 10 and 9 fathoms, 
and the bottom was of mixt sand and shells, fit for anchorage. Our 
latitude at noon was io° 26' 45", and longitude 142 gg^' ; and we 
had high land bearing S. 3 E. ten or twelve miles, which I supposed 
might be the easternmost of the York Isles, although captain Cook's 
longitude of it was 38' more westward. The weather being hazy, no 
other land was seen, nor any reefs ; but at one o'clock, I set these 
bearings : 

York Isle, high flat top, - S. 35° E. 

A more northern, double isle, . - - S. 84 W. 

A high peaked hill ( Mt. Ernest of Bligh ), N. 16 W. 
At two o'clock, when we passed on the north side of the double 
isle, it was seen to be surrounded with a coral reef, and there were 
rocks on its west and south sides. We then hauled up S. W. by S. 
for some rocky islets lying, as I supposed, off Cape York ; but find- 
ing no shelter there, bore away round the north end of an island, „, ( A S^„ 

& J Plate XVIII. 

of which Mr. Westall took a view, and anchored in 7 fathoms, gravel view 12.) 
and shells, one mile and a half from the lajid, and two or three 
cables length from a shoal to the southward, which became dry at 
low water. Our latitude here was io # 30' from bearings, and longi- 
tude by time-keeper 14^° 18^' east ; but I was altogether at a loss to 
know what islands these were, under which we had anchored. Sup- 
posing the flat-topped island to have been the easternmost York Isle, 
the land we had in sight to the southward should have been Cape 
York { but no such isles as those around us were laid down by cap- 
tain Cook, to the north of that cape. On consulting the sketch 

Digitized by 


118 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast 

isoe. made by captain Bligh in the Bounty's launch (Voyage to the 
Sunday si. South Seas, p. ««o), it appeared that the first land was not the east- 
ernmost isle, but one much nearer to Cape York ; and that our an- 
chorage was under the southern group of the Prince of Wales' Islands, 
the longitude of which, by captain Cook, is i° is' west of what I make 
it.* The north-eastern isle of this group, under which we more im- 
mediately lay, is that named Wednesday Island by captain Bligh ; to 
the other isles he gave no name ; but the one westward of the ship 
seems to have been the Hammond's Island of captain Edwards, when 
passing here with the Pandora's boats. So soon as the weather 
cleared a little, the subjoined bearings were taken. 

Wednesday I., distant i£ to 3 miles, S. 89 E. to 21° W. 

Hammond's Isle, dist. 4 or 5 miles, - S. 52 W. to 71 W. 

Hawkesbury I. ( of Edwards ) , highest part, N. 53 W. 

Mount Augustus (of Bligh), N. 2 W. 

A small isle, distant three leagues, - N. 24 E. 

Mount Ernest, peak, - N. 36 E. 

Double Isle, passed at 2 p. m., - - N. 70^ E. 

Breakers on a reef, distant 3^ miles, - N. 64 to 30 W. 

November. This evening and all the next day, the wind blew so strong 

Monday i. t k at - t wag i m pQ SS jbi e to i an( j . nor jjj j think it prudent to quit the 

anchorage, though anxious to commence the survey of the Gulph 
of Carpentaria. Upon Hammond's Island some fires were seen; 
but Wednesday Island showed no signs of being inhabited, unless 
some whitish, conical figures like sentry boxes, were huts ; there 
were bushes and small trees scattered over both islands, but their 
general appearance was rocky and barren. 

The tide here ran nine hours to the westward, at the strongest 
two-and-half knots ; and three hours north-eastward, but scarcely 
perceptible ; which deviation from the regular order was probably 

* Mr. Wales deduces from captain Cook's observations in the Endeavour, that the error 
of his chart here, is 35 * west (Astron. Observations, p. 181). 

Digitized by 


Prince of Wales 9 Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 1 19 

caused by the current setting westward. So far as the soundings taken isos. 

every hour could ascertain the rise, it was at least two fathoms, and j^ )n( i ay [' 

high water took place four or five hours after the moon's passage over 

and under the meridian, and was completed by the three hours tide. 

According to this, it would be high water here, and low water at 

Murray's Islands at the same time, which would present a remarkable 

analogy between this strait and that of Bass to the south wad; this 

however is certain, that the tide set E. by S. one knot and a quarter, 

at Murray's Islands, at four in the morning ; and that two days 

afterward, at Wednesday Island, it set from one-and-half to two-and- 

half knots W. byS., from one till seven in the morning. I will 

not venture to say that the latter part of the flood comes from 

south-west at the Prince of Wales' Islands, though appearances 

bespoke it; because captain Cook, who had better opportunity for 

observation, found it setting from the east, in Endeavour's Strait. 

He also gives the time of high water at one or two hours after 

the moon, which comes nearer to what I observed at Murray's 


From azimuths with the surveying compass when the head 

was S. E. by E., the variation was $• 32', or corrected to the meridian, 

4 52! east. 

In the morning of Nov. 2, the wind being more moderate and Tuesday 2. 

at E. S. E., we steered between Hammond's Island and the north- 
western reef, with soundings from 6 to 9 fathoms. Another island 
appeared beyond Hammond's, to the south-west, which, as it had no 
name, I called GoocFs Island, after Mr. Good, the botanical gardener; 
and we hauled up for it, passing a rock and a small reef between 
the two. On seeing an extensive shoal a-head, which would have 
carried us off the land to go round it, we anchored in 7 fathoms, 
dead coral and shells, with the north end of Hammond's Island bear- 
ing N. 64°E., four or five miles. The botanical gentlemen landed 
on Good's Island ; and in the afternoon I took these bearings amongst 
others, from a hill near its south-west end. 

Digitized by 


120 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1808. The ship, distant 1^ miles, N. 58" & W. 

Tuesday 2. Wallis' Isles, over the Shoal Cape of Bligh, - S. 83 5 W. 

Booby Isle, centre, - - - S. 80 o W. 

Northern isles, the westernmost visible, N. 28° io' to 24 5 W. 

Hawkesbury Island, - - N. 9 15 to 4 o W. 

North- west reef, its apparent termination, - N. 38 50 W. 
The shoal which stopped our progress did not run off from 
Shoal Cape, as captain Bligh had supposed, but from a smaller and 
nearer island, two miles from my station. .Within the large island, 
of which Shoal Cape forms the north-western point, I saw water like 
an inclosed port, probably the Wolf's Bay of captain Edwards; and 
it seemed possible that the land may be there divided ; but the best 
information I can give of the forms and extent of all these islands, 
will be seen in the particular chart. 

It was now ascertained, that the figures resembling sentry 
boxes were ant hills, of eight or more feet high ; Pelsert found 
similar hills on the West Coast, and. says they might have been 
taken for the houses of Indians, as in fact we did take them at a 
distant view. They were also seen by Dam pier on the North-west 
Coast, who mistook them in the same way; but says he found them 
to be so many rocks, probably from not making the examination 
with his usual care. The insects which inhabit, and I suppose erect 
these structures, are small, reddish, with black heads, and seemed to 
be a sluggish and feeble race. We found the common black flies 
excessively numerous here ; and almost as troublesome as Dampier 
describes them to be on the North-west Coast. 

Good's Island is between one and two miles long, and resembles 
the rest of the cluster in being hilly, woody, and rocky, with small 
beaches on the leeward side. The stone is granitic and brittle ; but 
there is also porphyry, and in one place I found streaks of verde- 
grease, as if the cliffs above had contained copper ore. A log of 
wood, resembling the cedar of Port Jackson, was thrown up on the 
beach, but none of the trees were seen ; those scattered over the 

Digitized by 


MMnce of Wales' Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 121 

island, though of various kinds, were small and fit for little else than i8os. 
the fire. A species of silk-cotton plant was plentiful ; the fibres in i^Sy 3* 
the pod are strong, and have a fine gloss, and might perhaps be 
advantageously employed in manufacture. 

From two supplements of the sun's meridian altitude to the 
porth, the latitude of our anchorage would be io°34 # 12"; but the 
supplements observed on the 31st having given 1' 14" too far south, 
the correct latitude is taken to be io° 32' 58". The longitude from 
nine sets of distances of the sun west of the moon, was 142 23'; but 
by the corrected time keeper, which I prefer, it was 14s lOj east. 
To compare this longitude with that of captain Cook, it must be 
reduced to some point distinctly laid down by him, and I take Booby 
Island, which was in sight. According to that navigator, Booby 
Isle is in 140* 38' east ( Hawkes worth, III, 214); whereas I made it 
to lie in 141 5/, or i° 19' further east, a difference which certainly 
appears very extraordinary ; but it is still more so, that the island 
should be laid down 63' of longitude to the west of the high, flat- 
topped York Isle, instead of 43' or 44'. To show that the longitude 
by my time keeper was not much, if any thing too great, I have to 
observe, that in captain Bligh's manuscript chart of 1792, Mount 
Augustus is laid down from his time keepers in 142° 14'; and the 
mean of his lunar observations, taken eight days before and six days 
afterward, was 16' more east. My time keeper now placed Mount 
Augustus in 142 18', or only 4' more east than captain Bligh's chart, 
consequently in 12 1 less than by his lunar observations ; by which 
quantity it was also less than the nine sets of distances now taken by 
lieutenant Flinders. 

No run of tide was perceptible at the anchorage, from eight 
in the morning to two p. m. ; but it then set westward, and continued so 
to do until four next morning, and was then running one knot and 
a half. The time of high water appeared by the soundings, to be 
nearly as they gave it at Wednesday Island. 

In the morning of the 3rd, the wind was moderate at E. S. E., Wednes. s. 
vol. 11. R 

Digitized by 


128 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803. and we made sail to get in with the main land to the south of the 
Wediu». 3. Prince of Wales' Islands. In hauling round the dry part of the shoal, 
we fell into 3 fathoms, and were obliged to steer round off; nor was 
it until after many attempts, and running four or five miles further 
to the south-westward, that the shoal would allow us to steer a 
southern course. At 8 h 45^, being then in 5 fathoms, 

Booby Isle bore, > ~ N. 56 W. 

Cape Cornwall, - - - S. 58 E. 

Station on Good's Island, dist. 11 miles, - N. 54 j E. 
From hence we carried 6 to 7 fathoms until past ten, and afterwards 
irregular soundings between 3 and 9 fathoms, to noon ; the latitude 
from a supplement to the north, with the same correction as applied 
on the and, was then io° 50' 44", and the bearings of the land were 
these ; 

Station on Good's Island, - - N. *9j°E. 

Cape Cornwall, - - - N. 68 E. 

Wallis' Isles, the highest, distant 2,\ miles, - N. 84 E. 
— — a lower and broader, dist. 3 or 4 miles, S. 71 to 64 E. 
Main land, low sandy point, dist. 8 miles, - S. 43 E, 

furthest extreme near a smoke, - S. 77 E. 

Between Cape Cornwall and the low main land above set, is 
the opening called in the old Dutch chart, Speult's River; but which 
captain Cook, who sailed through it, named Endeavour's Strait 
Wallis' Isles are small, low, and rocky, and the northernmost 
seemed destitute of vegetation; they are surrounded with sandy 
shoals, which appeared to connect with the main land and leave no 
ship passage between them. On the north side of the isles there are 
several banks at the outlet of Endeavour's Strait ; and the passage 
this way into the Indian Ocean is thereby rendered much inferior to 
that between Wednesday Island and the north-west reef, in which 
there are no difficulties. 

We passed Wallis' Isles, steering southward to get in with the 
main coast ; but the shoals forced us to run seven or eight miles to 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria] TERRA AUSTRALf S. 128 

the west, out of sight of land, before regular soundings could be lB( &- 
obtained and a southern course steered into the Gulph of Carpentaria. Wednes. s. 
At dusk, the anchor was dropped in 8 fathoms, soft mud, in latitude 
1 1° y, as observed from the moon to the north and south, and longi- 
tude 141 51' by time keeper. The variation from amplitude at sun- 
set, was s # 33', with the ship's head S. S. E., or 3 10' east when re- 
duced to the meridian ; which is i° 42' less than was obtained from 
azimuths under Wednesday Island. 

I now considered all the difficulties of Torres' Strait to be 
surmounted, since we had got a fair entry into the Gulph of Carpen- 
taria; and to have accomplished this, before the north-west monsoon 
had made any strong indications, was a source of much satisfaction, 
after the unexpected delay amongst the Barrier Reefs on the East 
Coast. It was this apprehension of the north-west monsoon that pre- 
vented me from making any further examination of the Strait, than 
what could be done in passing through it; but even this was not with- 
out its advantage to navigation, since it demonstrated that this most 
direct passage, from the southern Pacific, or Great Ocean to the Indian 
Seas, may be accomplished in three days. It may be remembered, that 
the reefs on the north side of the Pandora's Entrance were passed at 
six in the morning of Oct. 29 ; and that, after lying two nights at an- 
chor, we reached the Prince of Wales's Islands at three in the afternoon 
of the 31st ; and nothing then prevented us from passing Booby Isle, 
had I wished it, and: clearing Torres' Strait before dusk. Our route 
was almost wholly to seek, and another ship which shall have that 
route laid down to her, may surely accomplish the passage in the 
same time ; it must however be acknowledged, that this navigation 
is not without difficulties and dangers ; but I had great hope of ob- 
viating many of them, and even of finding a more direct passage 
by the south of Murray's Islands in the following year, when I 
should have the assistance of the Lady Nelson in making a survey 
of the Strait. 

Digitized by 


124 A VOYAGE TO [Afcrffc Coast 


Examination of the coast on the east side of the Gulph of Carpentaria. 
Landing at Coen River. Head of the Gulph. Anchorage at Sweers' 
Island. Interview with Indians at Horse-shoe Island. Investigator's 
Road. The ship found to be in a state of decay. General remarks on 
the islands at the head of the Gulph, and their inhabitants. Astro- 
nomical and nautical observations. 


November. In the morning of Nov. 4, the wind was at south-east, and we steered 
southward, close to it, with soundings from 8 to 1 1 fathoms. Several 
land birds of the size of a pigeon, but more slender, came off to* 
the ship ; when taken they fought desperately, being armed for war 
with a strong claw upon each wing. This bird had been seen at Port 
Philip on the South Coast, and belongs to the genus Tringa, being 
very nearly allied to the Tringa Goensis. At noon, the latitude 
was ii° 24j', longitude 141 46!' ; and at three, a sea breeze which 
set in from south-west, enabled us to steer in for the coast of Carpen- 
taria on the east side of the Gulph ; and it came in sight from the 
mast head soon afterwards. At five, the nearest part was six or 
eight miles distant, and the extremes bore N. E. to S. S. E. ; the 
depth of water was 10 fathoms, which decreased to 7^ at dusk, 
when we anchored on a bottom of gravel and shells ; the shore being 
then distant four miles, and the extremes bearing N. 38 to S. 8° E. 
It was sandy and low, like that on the south side of Endeavour's 
Strait, with which it is no doubt connected ; although, in a space of 
five or six leagues, our distance was too great for the land to be seen; 
behind the shore it was indifferently covered with shrubs and small 
trees, but totally destitute of any thing like a hill : fires bespoke it to 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 126 

be inhabited. There was no set of tide past the ship in the night, 1802# 
but the depth of water diminished from 7± to 6± fathoms. November. 

When we got under way in the morning to proceed along shore, Friday 5. 
the wind was light, ofFthe land, and soon after nine it fell calm; a drain 
of tide setting to the north-east, induced me to drop a stream anchor, 
four or five miles from a part of the beach where some natives were 
collected round a fire. At eleven the sea breeze came in from W. by N., 
with dark cloudy weather, and we steered onward, passing a small 
opening at one o'clock, four or five miles south of the natives. A 
much larger opening came in sight at two, into which I hoped to get 
the ship; but the water was so shallow at five or six miles off, that we 
were obliged to tack ; and after making a second ineffectual attempt, 
it became dusk, and we anchored in 6y fathoms, fine dark sand, the 
centre of the opening bearing S. 37* E. three leagues. 

The coast was low, as before, but the trees upomt were taller. 
The largest opening is about two miles wide, leading in south-east ; 
but turning afterwards more east, and apparently contracting its 
width. Near the south-west point of the entrance, which projects a 
little from the general line of the shore, was a clump of trees, higher 
than usual, presenting the first mark I had yet found for bearings. • 
The latitude of this opening is 1 1° 55', and agrees nearly with that 
of Batavia River in the old Dutch chart ; but the shoal which runs 
six miles out, seemed to lender it inaccessible to a ship. 

In the morning we had a breeze ofFthe land ; and the fear of the Saturday 6. 
north-west monsoon preventing me from taking time to beat up, we 
passed Batavia River at the distance of six miles, with soundings from 
5 to 8 fathoms. Several flocks of ducks were seen coming from the 
westward, where they had probably been to pass the night upon some 
island not inhabited. Our latitude at noon, from double altitudes, 
was 1 1° 56', and longitude by time keeper 141° 50'; the clump of trees 
near the entrance of Batavia River bore E. i° S., the furthest extreme 
of the land, S. 11 W., and the nearest part was distant four miles. 

The land wind continued to blow all day, but permitted us to 

Digitized by 


126 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

1802. lie along the shore. On its falling: calm toward sunset, we anchored 

November. & & ' 

Saturday 6. in io fathoms, soft mud, three or four miles from the coast ; the ex- 
tremes bearing N. 49 E. and S. 2 W. A light air came off the land 

Sunday 7. at four in the morning, arid at daylight we again steered southward ; 
but in two hours the wind died off, and an anchor was dropped in 9 
fathoms. There was a small opening at E. 5 S., about three miles ; 
and the botanical gentlemen being desirous of seeing the productions 
of this part of the country, the whale boat was lowered down, and 
we went to examine the inlet. 

On approaching the entrance, a canoe, or something like one, 
passed and repassed from the north to the south side, the rower using 
both hands to the paddle like the natives of Murray's Islands. We 
had a good deal of difficulty to get in, on account of the shoals; the 
channel amongst them being narrow and winding, and not more than 
nine to twelve feet deep. On the north side was a party of natives, 
and Bongaree went on shore to them, naked and unarmed ; but al- 
though provided with spears, they retreated from him, and all our 
endeavours to bring about an interview were unsuccessful. It was 
not safe for the gentlemen to botanise in presence of these suspicious 
people ; and therefore we rowed a mile higher up, to a* green looking 
point on the same side, and landed about noon. The depth thus far, 
was 2 fathoms ; and I could see two-and-half miles further up the 
inlet to the E. S. E., where it turned more southward, round a 
woody point; and from the strength of the tide, probably extended 
some miles into the country. 

Whilst the botanists where making their examination and I 
walked along the shore to shoot some birds, several voices were 
heard in the wood, as of people advancing towards us ; and there 
being too much opportunity here to creep on secretly, we assembled 
and retired into the boat, to wait their approach. A sea breeze had 
then set in ; and the Indians not appearing, we rowed back to the 
first place, where the country was open ; and the gentlemen botanised 
whilst centinels kept watch on the sandy hillocks. 

Digitized by 


Onlph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 12T 

In the upper parts of the port the country was well covered i*». 
with wood, mostly eucalyptus ; but near the entrance it was little better Sunday r. 
than bare sand, with some scattered trees of the casuarina and pan- 
danus: a stone of imperfectly concreted coral sand and shells formed 
the basis. Foot marks of the kanguroo were imprinted on the sand, 
and a dog was seen ; drupes of the pandanus, which had been sucked, 
lay in every direction, and small cockle shells were scattered on the 
beaches. I sought in vain for the canoe which had landed here, nor 
did I find any huts of the natives. 

Before quitting the shore, a hatchet was made fast to the 
branch of a tree, and set up conspicuously near the water side. We 
had scarcely shoved off, when the party of Indians, sixteen in num- 
ber, made their appearance and called to us ; but when the boat's 
head was turned toward them, they ran away. On the south side 
of the entrance were four other natives, who also ran at our approach; 
we therefore set up another hatchet for them on the beach, and re- 
turned back to the ship. 

These people were all naked ; and in colour, as in every thing 
else, seemed to have a perfect resemblance to the inhabitants of the 
east and south coasts of Terra Australis. In Torres' Strait bows 
and arrows are the offensive weapons; but here we saw spears only: 
each man had several in his hand, and something which was sup- 
posed to be a- throwing stick. 

This small opening appears to be the Coen River of the Dutch 
chart ; but the entrance is too small and shallow to admit any thing 
larger than boats : its latitude is 12 13' south, and longitude 141 4/ 
east; and the variation of the compass, observed with the ship's 
head in the magnetic meridian, was 4 36' east. The tide was run- 
ning from south-west, at ten in the morning, and on entering the 
inlet it was found to be setting in with considerable strength ; at two 
in the afternoon the flood was still running ; and admitting that it 
would be high water an hour afterwards, as seemed probable, the 
time would be Jive hours and a half after the moon passed the lower 

Digitized by 


128 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1802. meridian ; or an hour later than it had appeared to be at the Prince 

s^day 7? of Wales' Islands. 

Lieutenant Fowler had got the ship under way, on the sea 
breeze setting in, and stood off and on the entrance to Coen River, 
until our return at three o'clock. We then steered south-westward 
along the shore; and soon after sunset, anchored in 10 fathoms, 
nearly four miles from the land, which extended from N. 38* to S. 6° E. 
and was still low and woody, and fronted with a sandy beach. 

A breeze came off the land at night, as usual, and the weather 

Monday 8. w *s dark and squally. Early in the morning we steered along the 
coast, with good soundings between 10 and 9 fathoms, muddy bot- 
tom. A sandy point with two hillocks on it, which had been the ex- 
treme of the preceding evening, was passed at ten o'clock ; and seeing 
a large bight round it, we tacked to work up. At noon, the point 
bore from N. 44 E., one mile and a half, to the southern extreme at 
east, three miles. This point is one of the very few remarkable pro- 
jections to be found on this low coast, but it is not noticed in the 
Dutch chart; there is little doubt, however, that it was seen in 1606, 
in the yatcht Duyf hen, the first vessel which discovered any part of 
Carpentaria ; and that the remembrance may not be lost, I gave the 
name of the vessel to the point. Our observations placed the south 
extreme of Duyf hen Point in 12* 35' south, and 141 42' east; and 
the variation from amplitude, with the ship's head W. N. W., was 
5 24', or reduced to the meridian, 3 43' east. 

On the sea breeze setting in at two o'clock, we steered into 
the bight until past five ; when having no more than 2j fathoms, we 
tacked and stretched out. The bight extends eleven or twelve miles 
back from the line of the coast, and there are three small openings 
in it ; but the shore being very low, and in many places over-run 
with mangroves, and the water shallow four or five miles off, these 
openings are probably no more than drains out of salt swamps or 
lagoons. The bearings when we tacked in s£ fathoms, were, 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 129 

Duyf hen Point, south extreme, dist. 6 or 7 miles, N. 63 W. 1802. 

Small opening behind it, distant 5 or 6 miles, - N. 23 W. Mondays! 

A second opening, distant four miles, - N. 64 E. 

A third, distant three miles, - - S. 78 E. 

At eight in the evening, having reached out of the bight, and a 
breeze coming off the land, we steered southward until half past ten ; - 
and then anchored in 8 fathoms, muddy bottom. In the morning, I Tuesday 9. 
set the west extreme of Duyf hen Point at N. 9° E. ; and the furthest 
land in the opposite direction, at S. 9 E. This land forms the south 
side of the large bight; and besides projecting beyond the coast line, 
and being a little higher than usual, is remarkable for having some 
reddish cliffs in it, and deep water near the shore. It is not noticed 
in the Dutch chart ; but I called it Pera Head, to preserve the name 
0/ the second vessel which, in 1623, sailed along this coast. 

Pera Head was passed at the distance of one mile and a half, (Adas, 
at noon, with 9 fathoms water; and the most projecting part of the Plate XIV; ^ 
cliffs found to be in j 2* 5$^' south, ^md 141 4,0' east. The sea 
breeze had then set in, and we steered southward till past four 
o'clock; when a decrease in the soundings to 3 fathoms, obliged us 
to tack at a league from the land ; and the wind being at S. W., we 
worked along shore till ten in the evening, and then anchored in 6 
fathoms, oozy bottom. At daylight, the land was seen to be five miles Wcdncs. 10. 
distant, equally low and sandy as before; and a small opening in it, 
perhaps not accessible to boats, bore S. 79 E. On getting under way 
again, we closed in with the shore and steered along it at the distance 
of two or three miles, in soundings from 3 to 7 fathoms until noon ; 
our latitude was then 13 42' 35", longitude 141° 32', being nearly 
the position of Cape Keer-Weer> at which the yacht Duyf hen gave up 
her examination. I could see nothing like a cape here; but the 
southern extreme of the land, seen from the mast head, projects a 
little ; and from respect to antiquity, the Dutch name is there pre- 

At four o'clock we passed the southern extremity of Cape 

vol. n. S 

Digitized by 


180 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

ieo«. Keer-Weer, round which the coast falls back somewhat ; the water 
Vtednt*. 10. then became more shallow, and did not admit of being safely 
approached nearer than four miles. An opening is laid down here 
in the Dutch chart, called Vereenigde River, which certainly has no 
existence. All this afternoon the sea breeze was fresh and favour- 
able ; and by eight o'clock, when we anchored in 3 fathoms, the 
distance run from noon exceeded forty miles. A fire was seen on the 
land about four miles off, and some smokes had been passed in the day ; 
so that the country should seem to be at least as well peopled in this 
part of Carpentaria as further northward. The coast was, if possi- 
ble, still lower than before; not a single hill had yet been seen; and 
the tops of the trees on the highest land, had scarcely exceeded the 
height of the ship's mast head. 

Thurs. ii. The land wind came from N. N. E.; and in the morning our 

course was pursued along the shore at the usual distance. At eight 
o'clock the depth decreased to 2^ fathoms, and obliged us tosteer off, 
though five miles from the land; and when fair soundings were 
obtained, the tops of the trees only were visible from the deck. At 
noon we had closed in again, the shore being distant five or six miles, 
and the depth 6 fathoms on a gravelly bottom; our latitude was 
1 4 # 5 1# 5 #, > longitude 141*33', the extremes seen from the deck 
bore N. sg° to S. 66° E., and a smoke was seen rising at S. a8°E. 
The sea breeze came in from the south-westward ; but the trending 
of the coast being nearly S. S. E., we lay along it until past four 
o'clock, and then tacked off, in 3 fathoms ; the nearest part of the 
land being distant two or three miles, and the extremes bearing 
N. 3 and S. 7 W. At eight in the evening the breeze died away, 
and a stream anchor was dropped in 5 fathoms, mud and shells, five 
or six miles offshore ; where the latitude from an observation of the 
moon was 15* 5' south. 

Friday 13. At sunrise, next morning, the ship was steering southward 

with a land wind at east ; and at seven o'clock we passed an opening 
near which several natives were collected. The entrance seemed to 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 131 

be a full mile in width ; but a spit from the south side runs so far 1802. 
across, that there is probably no access to it, unless for rowing boats : Friday 12. 
its latitude is 15 12! south, corresponding witlra bight in the Dutch 
chart to the south of the second Water Plaets ; and the variation, 
with the ship's head in the meridian, was 4 43' east. Our course 
southward was continued at two or three miles from the shore, in 3 
to 4 fathoms ; but at eleven o'clock, the sea breeze having then set 
in, the depth diminished suddenly to 2 fathoms; and in tacking, the 
ship stirred up the mud. 

The latitude at noon was 15* 25' 20", and longitude 141 32'; 
at one o'clock we steered S. S. W., with the whale boat a-head, and 
carried from 4 to 6 fathoms until seven in the evening, when the 
stpeam anchor was dropped about four miles from the shore, in 5 
fathoms, muddy bottom. This depth had diminished at daylight to Saturday 13. 
$% fathoms, after a tide had been setting nine hours to 'the N. by E. ; 
and for the first time upon this coast it had run with some strength, 
the rate being one mile an hour. 

We were again under way soon after five o'clock ; and at six, 
being then four miles from the land, and steering S. S. W., a lagoon 
was seen from the mast head, over the front beach. It has doubtless 
some communication with the sea, either by a constant, or a tem- 
porary opening, but none such could be perceived. The latitude 
*5° 53' corresponds with that of Nassau River in the old chart ; and 
from the examples already had of the Dutch rivers here, it seems 
probable that this lagoon was meant. A few miles further south, 
the shoal water obliged me to run westward, out of sight of land 
from the deck ; and even at the mast head, the tops of the trees were 
only partially distinguished ; yet the depth was no more than from 
4 to 6 fathoms. At noon, when our latitude was 16 24 1 *£" and 
longitude 141* 14-, trees were visible from the deck at N. 7o°E., 
and from thence to S. 50 E. ; the nearest part, whence a smoke arose, 
being distant seven or eight miles, and the depth of water 4 fathoms. 
The slight projection here is probably one of those marked in the old 

Digitized by 


132 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast 

iso2. chart on each side of Staten River ; but where that river can be found 


Saturday 13. I knOW not. 

The nearest approach made to the land in the afternoon, was 
five or six miles, with # fathoms water ; at dusk we anchored in 6 
fathoms, mud, at six or seven miles from the shore, having been 
forced off a little by the sea breeze veering southward. A tide here 
ran gently to" the S. S. W., till near ten o'clock, and then set north- 
Sunday 14. ward till daylight ; at which time the water had fallen nine feet by 
the lead line. We got under way with a land wind from the north- 
east, which afterwards veered to north-west, and steered a course 
nearly due south ; which, as the coast then trended south-westward, 
brought us in with it. At noon, the latitude was 17 3' 15", longitude 
i4i o ; ; a projecting partbore N. 5 g°E. three or four miles, and 
the depth was 3^ fathoms. There appeared to be a small opening 
on the south side of this little projection, which corresponds in lati- 
tude to Van Diemen's River in the oid chart ; but across the entrance 
was an extensive flat, nearly dry, and would probably prevent even 
boats from getting in. If this place had any title to be called a 
river in 1644, the coast must have undergone a great alteration sinee 
that time. 

In the afternoon our course along shore was more westward ; 
and this, with the increasing shallowness of the water, made me 
apprehend that the Gulph would be found to terminate nearly as re- 
presented- in the old charts, and disappoint the hopes formed of a 
strait or passage leading out at some other part of Terra Australis. 
At four o'clock, after running more than an hour in 3^ fathoms, or 
less than 3 at low water, our distance from the shore was five miles ; 
and a small opening then bore S. 14 E., which seems to be the Caron 
River y marked at the south-east extremity of the Gulph in the Dutch 
chart ; but whatever it might have been in Tasman's time, no navi- 
gator would now think of attempting to enter it with a ship : the 
latitude is 17* 26', and longitude i4,o°52' east. From four till seven 
our course was W. by S., close to the wind, the depth being mostly 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria] TERRA AUSTRALIA 103 

3 fathoms, and the land barely within sight from the mast head. 1 * 02 - 

ii November. 

We then stood off ; and the water being smooth, anchored on Sunday 14. 
muddy ground, in 4^ fathoms, which became 3^ at low water. The 
flood tide here set S. S. W., till midnight ; and the ebb N. by E., till 
we got under way in the morning. 

On the 15th, we ran before a north-east wind towards the fur- Monday 15. 
thest land seen from the mast head. The soundings were 3 j, 3, and 
soon after seven o'clock, a£ fathoms ; which made it necessary to steer 
further off, though the land was distant six or eight miles, and 
scarcely visible from^ the deck. We kept in 3 fathoms, steering 
various westward courses, until noon; when the latitude was 17 
30' 9", and longitude 140 23'. The land was distant seven or eight 
miles to the southward, and the furthest part distinguished from the 
mast head was at S. by W. ^ W. ; it was low and sandy as ever, and 
with less wood upon it than any part before seen. A sea breeze at 
N. N. W. scarcely permitted us to lie along the shore in the after- 
noon ; but the ground being soft, and soundings regular, though 
shallow, we kept on until five o'clock ; and then tacked in 2~ fathoms 9 
having reached within three miles of the land. At eight o'clock, the 
anchor was let go in 4 fathoms, on a bottom of mud and shells. 

The coast to which we approached nearest this evening, was 
sandy and very barren ; but there were some natives collected upon 
the hillocks, to look at the ship ; so that even here, and at the end of 
the dry season, fresh water may be had. These people were black 
and naked, and made many wild gestures. Between this part and 
the land set at S. by W. «■ W. at noon, there was a bight falling back 
as far as the latitude 17° 42', or perhaps further, which appeared 
to be the southern extremity of the Gulph of Carpentaria ; for the 
coast from thence took a direction to the northward of west. Shoals 
extended a great way out from the bight ; and were alnjost dry to 
a considerable distance. 

In the morning our route was pursued along the shore, at the Tuesday ic 
distance of six to nine or ten miles ; the course being N, \V., close 

Digitized by 


IS4 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast: 

1802. to a N. N. E. wind, and the soundings remarkably regular, between 
Tuesday 16. 3 anc * 3t fathoms. Two leagues from the place where the natives 
had been seen, was a projecting part where the country again be- 
came woody ; but the coast there, and onward, was as low as before. 
At noon, the observed latitude was 17* 2 1 # 15", and the longitude 
by time keeper 139 54/ east ; the furthest continuation of the land 
seen from the mast head, bore W. \ S., but there was a small lump 
bearing N. 35° W., towards which we kept up as much as possible. 
At two o'clock the wind headed, and on coming into 2^ fathoms, 
we tacked ; being then five miles from the low southern land, and 
three or four leagues from the northern hill, which bore N. 18* W. 
Not much was gained in working to windward from that time till 
dusk ; and the anchor was then dropped in 4£ fathoms, blue mud, no 
other land than the small hill being in sight. 

There being no island marked in the Dutch'chart so near to the 
head of the Gulph as this hill, made meconclude that it was upon the 
main land; and to hope that the space of four leagues, between it 
and the southern coast, was an opening of some importance. In the 
Wednes. 17. morning, a fresh land wind at south-east favoured our course, the 
water deepened to 10 fathoms, and at eight o'clock to no ground with 
13, near the south end of a reef extending out from the hill. On 
coming into 5 fathoms behind the reef, the anchor was dropped on 
a muddy bottom, with the hill bearing N. 15 E., one mile and a 
quarter, and the dry extremity of the reef S. E. -j E. The coast to 
the southward was scarcely visible from the mast head, but land was 
seen to extend westward from the hill, as far as nine or ten miles ; 
and in order to gain a better knowledge of what this land might be, 
I went on shore, taking instruments with me to observe for the rates 
of the time keepers. 

The hill proved to be a mass of calcareous rock 3 whose sur- 
face was cut and honey-combed as if it had been exposed to the wash- 
ing of a surf. It was the highest land we had seen in Carpentaria, 
after having followed one hundred and seventy-five leagues of coast ; 

Digitized by 


Gulpk of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALI& 135 

nor was any land to be distinguished from the top of the hill which No *^ b ' c 
had an equal degree of elevation ; yet it did not much exceed the Wednss. ir. 
height of the ship's mast head ! The land round it proved to be an 
island of five miles long ; separated from other land to the west by 
a channel of nearly two miles in width. The wide opening between 
this la d and the low coast to the southward, I take to have been 
what is called Maatsuyker's River in the old chart ; and that the 
island, which Tasman, or whoever made tlie examination, did not 
distinguish well from being too far off, is the projecting point marked 
on the. west side of that river. Maatsuyker was one of the coun- 
sellors at Batavia, who pigned Tasman's instructions in 1644; but 
as there is no river here, his name, as it stands applied in the old 
chart, cannot remain. I would have followed in the intention of doing 
him honour, by transferring his name to the island, but Maatsuyker's 
Isles already exist on the south coast of Van Diemen's Land ; I 
therefore adopt the name of Sweers, another member of the same 
Batavia council ; and call the island at the entrance of the supposed 
river, Sweers 9 Island. The hill obtained the name of Inspection Hill ; 
and after taking bearings from it, I rowed into the channel which 
separates Sweers' Island from the western land ; and finding the 
shelter to be good, the bottom soft, and soundings regular between 
3 and 6 fathoms, the shores on each side were searched for fresh 
water, with a view to filling up the holds there and caulking the ship, 
before proceeding further in the examination of the Gulph : the search, 
however, was unsuccessful. 

In Torres' Strait, when running with a fresh side wind, the ship 
had leaked to the amount of ten inches of water per hour, and in some 
hours the carpenters had reported as much as fourteen ; but no anchor- 
age, adapted to the purpose of caulking the bends, had presented 
itself until our arrival here. Before going on shore, I had left orders 
for the ship to be put on a careen, and the carpenters began upon 
the larbord side. In the course of their work two planks were found 
to be rotten, and the timber underneath was in no better state ; it was 

Digitized by 


13« A VOYAGE TO \Narth Coast. 

1802. therefore desirable to find a place where the holds could be completed with water, and the botanists and myself find useful employment for 

a few days, whilst the deficiencies were repairing. Such a place, it was 

reasonable to expect, the opening to the westward would afford ; and 

the carpenters having patched up the bad part by the evening of 

Thursdayi8. the 18th, and another set of observations for the time keepers being 

obtained, we were then ready to proceed in the examination. 
Friday 19. Next morning at sunrise, we steered up \he open ng with a 

land wind at S. S. E. ; and until ten o'clock, when we had reached, 
the furthest part of the western land seen from Inspection Hill, the 
soundings were between 6 and 3 fathoms, reduced to low water. 
This land proved to be an island of ten or eleven miles long, and I 
have given it the name of Bentinck, in honour of the Right Hon. 
Lord William Bentinck; of whose obliging attention, when 
governor of Madras, I shall hereafter have to speak in praise. To the 
north-west of Bentinck's Island, several small isles came in sight ; 
but a northern sea breeze having set in, we kept on our western 
course for the low main land, which trended here north-westward. 
At one o'clock, the diminution of depth to 2 j fathoms, obliged us to 
tack ; the main being four miles distant, and the eastern extreme of 
the nearest island bearing N. 3 W., two leagues : this was named 
Allen's Isle, after the practical miner of the expedition. In working 
to windward, the water was found to be shallow in almost every 
direction ; and the deepest being at three or four miles from the 
south-west point of Bentinck's Island, the anchor was there dropped 
in 4j fathoms, muddy bottom. 
SaturJayso. In the morning we steered towards Allen's Isle, with the 

whale boat a-head ; and anchored one mile and a half from its south- 
east end, in 3^ fathoms, mud. Our latitude here was 17 5', longi- 
tude 139 26' ; and azimuths taken with the surveying compass, when 
the head was N. by E., gave variation 2 49', or 3* 15' east, corrected. 
I went on shore with the botanical gentlemen, in order to take bear- 
ings, and explore further up the opening. 

Digitized by 


WeOeskjfs Islands.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 1ST 

Allen's Isle is between four and five miles in length, and ^ T 18a ^ 

° m November. 

though generally barren, there are bushes and small trees upon it, Saturday «o. 
and some tolerable grass. It is altogether low land ; but the south- 
east end is cliffy, and within two cables length of it there is 4 fathoms; 
no fresh water was found near the shore, nor any place where 
casks could be conveniently landed. After taking a set of bearings 
I left the gentlemen to follow their pursuits, and rowed north-west- 
ward, intending to go round the island ; but an impassable reef ex- 
tended so far out, that the project was given up ; and after taking 
angles from one of the rocks, I went eastward to a smaller island 
two miles off, where, several Indians where perceived. The water 
was too shallow for the boat to get near them ; but we landed at a 
little distance, and walked after three men who were dragging six 
small rafts toward the extreme northern rocks, where three other 
natives were sitting. 

These men not choosing to abandon their rafts, an interview 
was unavoidable, and they came on shore with their spears to wait 
our approach. One of us advanced towards them, unarmed ; and 
signs being made to lay down their spears, which were understood 
to mean that they should sit down, they complied ; and by degrees, 
a friendly intercourse was established. They accepted some red 
worsted caps and fillets, as also a hatchet and an adze, the use of 
which being explained, was immediately comprehended. In return, 
they gave us two very rude spears, and a womerah, or throwing 
stick, of nearly the same form as those used by the natives of Port 

The rafts consisted of several straight branches of mangrove, 
very much dried, and lashed together in two places with the largest 
ends one way, so as to form a broad part, and the smaller ends clos- 
ing to a point. Near the broad end was a bunch of grass, where the' 
man sits to paddle ; but the raft, with his weight alone, must swim 
very deep; and indeed J should scarcely haye supposed it could float 
a man .at all. Upon one of the rafts was a short net, which, from 
vol. 11. T 

Digitized by 


188 A VOYAGE TO [North Coatt. 

iao*. the size of the meshes, was probably intended to catch turtle; upon 
Saturday «o. another was a young shark; and these, With their paddles and 
spears, seemed to consitute the whole of their earthly riches. 

Two of the three men were advanced in years, and from the re- 
semblance of feature were probably brothers. With the exception 
of two chiefs at Taheity, these were the tallest Indians I had ever 
seen ; the two brothers being from three to four inches higher than 
my coxswain, who measured five feet eleven. They were not re- 
markable for being either stout or slender ; though like most of the 
Australians, their legs did not bear the European proportion to the 
size of their heads and bodies. The third native was not so tall as the 
other two ; and he was, according to our notions, better proportioned. 
Their features did not much differ from those of their countrymen 
on the South and East Coasts ; but they had each of them lost two 
front teeth from the upper jaw. Their hair was short, though not 
fcurly ; and a fillet of net work, which the youngest man had wrapped 
round his head, was the sole ornament or clothing seen amongst them. 
The two old men appeared, to my surprise, to have undergone cir- 
cumcision ; but the posture of the youngest, who remained sitting 
down, did not allow of observation being made upon him. 

After being five minutes with them, the old men proposed to 
go to our boat ; and this being agreed to, we proceeded together* 
hand in hand. But they stopped half way, and retreating a little, 
the eldest made a short harangue which concluded with the word 
jahree ! pronounced with emphasis; they then returned to the 
rafts, and dragged them towards their three companions who were 
sitting on the furthest rocks. These I judged to be women, and 
that the proposal of the men to go to our boat was a feint to get us 
. further from them ; it did not seem, however, that the women were 
so much afraid of us, as the men appeared to be on their account; 
for although we walked back, past the rafts, much nearer than 
before, they remained very quietly picking oysters. It was not 
my desire to annoy these poor people; and therefore, leaving 

Digitized by 


WeUesley's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 139 

them to their own way, we took an opposite direction to examine ibos. 

v • i j November, 

the island. Saturday**. 

This low piece of land is between one and two miles lohg, artd 
from its form received the name of Horse-shoe Island; there is very 
little soil mixed with the sand on its surface, and except the man«- 
grove trees upon the shore, it bears nothing larger than bushes. 
We did not find any huts ; but the dried grass spread round two or 
three neighbouring fire places, marked the last residence of the In- 
dians. Near it were lying several large spiral shells, probably the 
vessels in which they had brought water from the main land ; for 
none was found on the island, nor was there any appearance that it 
could be procured. Shells and bones of turtle, some of them fresh, 
were plentifully scattered around ; upon the beach also there were 
turtle tracks, and several of these animals were seen in the water 
during the day ; but it was not our fortune to take one of them. 

In returning to the ship in the evening, I steered from Horses- 
shoe, to the south-east end of Allen's Isle, and sounded the channel 
between them ; but had only once so much as 3 fathoms. There 
was consequently no fit passage this way for the ship, and the 
several low islets to the north-east, precluded the expectation of 
finding one any where to the west of Bentinck's Island ; I therefore 
judged it most advisable to return, and place the ship between Ben- 
tinck's and Sweers' Islands, until the necessary caulking was finished. 
Natives had been seen on both those islands ; and this gave a hope 
that water might still be found to complete the holds previously to 
encountering the bad weather of the north-west monsoon, which I 
had been expecting to set in every day. 

At daylight next morning the anchor was weighed ; and having Sunday 21. 
to work against foul winds, the breadth of the ship passage between 
Bentinck's Island and the southern main, was ascertained and sounded; 
and at dusk in the evening we anchored half a mile from the west 
sandy point of Sweers' Island, in 5 fathoms, small stones and shells. 
This anchorage between the two islands, though it may not be called 

Digitized by 


140 A VOYAGE TO [North Coa*. 

1808. a port, is yet almost equally well sheltered, and I named it Inves- 
Sunday si. tigatofs Road; it has the appearance of being exposed between 
N. N. W. and N. E. £N.; but the rocks from each shore occupy 
nearly one half of the space, and the water is too shallow in the re- 
maining part to admit any surge to endanger a ship. 
Monday «. Next day, a boat was sent to fish with the seine upon Sweers' 

Island, and an officer went to the opposite shore to dig for water ; 
the botanists divided themselves into two parties, to visit both islands, 
and the carpenters began caulking the starbord side of the ship. I 
repeated the observations under Inspection Hill, for the rates of the 
time keepers ; and being* informed on my return, that the midship- 
man of the seining boat had discovered a small hole containing a 
little muddy water, with a shell lying near it, I had the place dug 
out, through* the sand and a stratum of whitish clay, to the depth of 
ten or eleven feet. Under the clay we found a bottom of stone and 
gravel, and the water then flowed in clear, and tolerably fast. This 
was a great acquisition ; more especially as the spring was not far 
from the beach at the west point of Sweers' Island, where th# 
casks could be conveniently landed, and where we had had great 
success in fishing. 

The gentlemen who visited Bentinck's Island, found a small 
lake of fresh water at no great distance from the sea side ; and it 
appeared that the interior part of Sweers' Island, towards the north- 
ern end, was occupied by swamps. This comparative abundance of 
water upon such low islands, and at the end of the dry season, 
seemed very remarkable; it may perhaps be attributed to the clayey 
consistence of the stratum immediately under the sand, and to the 
gravelly rock upon which that stratum rests ; the one preventing 
the evaporation of the rains, and the other obstructing their further 
Tuesday 23. Early next morning the ship was removed to within two cables 

length of the west point, nearer to the spring ; and lieutenant Fowler 
was established on shore with a party of seamen and marines, taking 

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WetU$l(*j$ Islands.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 141 

tents, a seine, and other necessaries for watering the ship and sup- i86«. 
plying us with fish. The carpenters proceeded in their work of Tuesday as. 
caulking ; but as they advanced, report after report was brought to 
me of rotten places found in different parts of the ship, — in the planks, 
bends, timbers, tree-nails, &c, until it became quite alarming. I 
therefore directed the master and carpenter to make a regular exami- Wednes. *4 
nation into all such essential parts, as could be done without delaying 
the service ; and to give me an official report thereon, with answers 
to certain queries put to them. After two days examination, their 
report was made in the following terms. Friday 2«. 


In obedience to your directions Ave have taken with us the 
eldest carpenter's mate of the Investigator, and made as thorough an 
examination into the state of the ship as circumstances will permit, 
and which we find to be as under : — 

Out of ten top timbers on the larbord side, near the fore chan- 
nel^ four are sound, one partly rotten, and five entirely rotten. 

We have seen but one timber on the larbord quarter,, which is 
entirely rotten. 

On the starbord bow, close to the stem, we have seen three 
timbers which are all rotten. Under the starbord fore chains, we find 
one, of the chain-plate bolts started, in consequence of the timber and 
inside plank being rotten ; and also a preventer eye-bolt, from the 
same cause. 

On boring into the second futtock timbers from the main hold,, 
close under the beams of the lower deck on the larbord side, we find 
one sound and two rotten ; and on the other side, one sound and one 

On boring into one of the second futtock timbers in the cock- 
pit, oa each side, we find it to be sound on the starbord, but on the 
other side rotten : the inside plank on both sides is rotten. On boring 
into one timber of a side in the after hold, we find them to be sound. 

Digitized by 


142 A VOYAGE TO * [North Coast. 

1802. On boring into one timber of a side from the bread room, one it 

Friday 26. sound ; but on the larbord aide it k rotten. 

The stem appears to be good ; but the stemson is mostly decayed. 

The lower breast hook is decayed within side. 

The transoms, sleepers, stern post, and postson are all sound. 

The ends of the beams we find to be universally in a decaying 

The tree-nails are in general rotten. 

From the specimens we have seen of the top-sides and bends, 
we expect that the insides of them are rotten, fore and aft ; but that 
about one inch of the outside of the greater part is yet quite sound. 

After the above report, and upon due consideration, we give 
the following answers to the four questions put to us. 

1st. The ship having before made ten inches of water an hour, 
in a common fresh breeze, we judge from that, and what we have 
now seen, that a little labouring would employ two pumps; and that 
in a strong gale, with much sea running, the ship would hardly escape 
foundering ; so that we think she is totally unfit to encounter much 
bad weather. 

2nd. We have no doubt but that, if the ship should get on shore 
under any unfavourable circumstances, she would immediately go to 
pieces ; but with a soft bottom and smooth water, she might touch for 
a short time without any worse consequences than to another ship, if 
she did not heel much; but altogether, we judge it to be much more 
dangerous for her to get aground in her present state, than if she were 

3rd. It is our opinion that the ship could not bear heaving 
down on any account; and that laying her on shore might so far 
strain her as to start the copper and butt ends, which would make her 
unable to swim without vast repair. 

4th. Mr. Aken has known several ships of the same kind, and 
built at the same place as the InTestigator ; and has always found 
that when they began to rot tbey went on very fast. From the state 
io which the ship seems now to be advanced, it is our joint opinion, 
that in twelve months there will scarcely be a sound timber in her ; 

Digitized by 


Wettesle^s Islands.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 148 

but that if she remain in fine weather and happen no accident, she 1802. 
may run six months longer without much risk. Friday 26. 

We are, SIR, 
To Matthew Flinders, Esq. your obedient servants, 

Commander of His Majesty's John Aken, master, 

sloop the Investigator. Russel Mart, carpenter. 

I cannot express the surprise and sorrow which this statement 
gave me. According to it, a return to Port Jackson was almost 
immediately necessary ; as well to secure the journals and charts of 
the examinations already made, as to preserve the lives of the ship's 
company ; and my hopes of ascertaining completely the exterior form 
of this immense, and in many points interesting country, if not de- 
stroyed, would at least be deferred to an uncertain period. My 
leading object had hitherto been, to make so accurate an investiga- 
tion of the shores of Terra Australis that no future voyage to 
this country should be necessary ; and with this always in view, 
I had ever endeavoured to follow the land so closely, that the 
washing of the surf upon it should be visible, and no opening, nor 
any thing of interest escape notice. Such a degree of proximity is 
what navigators have usually thought neither necessary nor safe to 
pursue, nor was it always persevered in by us ; sometimes because 
the direction of the wind or shallowness of the* water made it im- 
practicable, and at other times because the loss of the Ship would 
have been the probable consequence of approaching so near to a lee 
shore. But when circumstances were favourable, such was the plan 
I pursued ; and with the blessing of God, nothing of importance 
should have been left for future discoverers, upon any part of these 
extensive coasts; hut with a ship incapable of encountering bad 
weather,— which could not be repaired if sustaining injury from any 
of the numerous shoals or rocks upon the coast,— which, if constant 
fine weather could be ensured and all accidents avoided, could not 
run more than six months;— with such a ship, I knew not how (o 
accomplish the task. 

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144 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1802. a. passage to Port Jackson at this time, presented no common 


Fndaj «6. difficulties. In proceeding by the west, the unfavourable monsoon 
was likely to prove an obstacle not to be surmounted ; and in returning 
by the east, stormy weather was to be expected in Torres' Strait, a 
place where the multiplied dangers caused such an addition to be 
peculiarly dreaded. These considerations, with a strong desire to 
finish, if possible, the examination of the Gulph of Carpentaria, fixed 
my resolution to proceed as before in the survey, during the con- 
tinuance of the north-west monsoon ; and when the fair wind should 
come, to proceed by the west to Port Jackson, if the ship should 
prove capable of a winter's passage along the South Coast, and if 
not, to make for the nearest port in the East Indies, 
Sunday 28. By the 28th, the watering and wooding of the ship were com- 

pleted, the gunner had dried all his powder in the sun, and the tents 
and people were brought on board. All that the carpenters could 
do at the ship was to secure the hooding ends to the stem, — shift some 
of the worst parts in the rotten planking, — and caulk all the bends; 
and this they had finished. The wind being south-east on the morn- 
Monday 29. ing of the 29th, I attempted to quit the Investigator's Road by steer* 
ing out to the northward ; but this being found impracticable, from 
the shallowness of the water, we were obliged to beat out to the 
.south ; and so contrary did the wind remain, that not being able to 
weather the reef at the south-east end of Sweers' Island; we anchored 
T»e5day so. within, it on the evening of the 30th. 

I shall now sum up into one view, the principal remarks made 
during our stay amongst these islands. The stone most commonly 
seen on the shores is an iron ore, in some places so strongly impreg- 
nated, that I conceive it would be a great acquisition to a colony 
fi^ed in the neighbourhood. Above this is a concreted mass of coral, 
shells, coral sand, and grains of iron ore, which sometimes appears 
at the surface, but is usually covered either with sand or vege- 
table earth, or apiixture of both. Such appeared most generally, to 
be the consistence of all the islands ; but there are many local varieties* 

Digitized by 


- Wellesley's Islands .] 'TERRA AUSTRALIA 145 

The soil, even in the best parts, is far behind fertility ; but the ^ **«• 

, . , n November* 

small trees and bushes which grow there, and the grass in some of 
the less covered places, save the larger islands from the reproach of 
being absolutely sterile. The principal woods are eucalyptus and 
casuarina, of a size too small in general, to be fit for other purposes 
than the fire ; the pandanus grows almost every where, but most 
abundantly in the sandy parts ; and the botanists made out a long 
list of plants, several of which were quite new to them. 

We saw neither quadruped nor reptile upon the islands. Birds 
were rather numerous ; the most useful of them were ducks of several 
species, and bustards ; and one of these last, shot by Mr. Bauer, 
weighed between ten and twelve pounds, and made us an excellent 
dinner. The flesh of this bird is distributed in a manner directly 
contrary to that of the domestic turkey, the white meat being upon 
the legs, and the black upon the breast. In the woody parts of the 
islands were seen crows and white cockatoos ; as abo cuckoo-phea* 
sants, pigeons, and small birds peculiar to this part of the country. 
On the shores were pelicans, gulls, sea-pies,, ox-birds, and sand- 
larks ; but except the gulls, none of these tribes were numerous. 
The sea afforded a variety offish ; and in such abundance, that it was 
rare not to give a meal to all the ship's company from one or two 
hauls of the seine. Turtle abound amongst the islands ; but it seemed 
to be a fatality that we could neither peg any from the boat, nor yet 
catch them on shore. 

Indians were repeatedly seen upon both Bentinck's andSweers' 
Islands ; but they always avoided us, and sometimes disappeared in 
a manner which seemed extraordinary. It is probable that they hid 
themselves in caves dug in the ground ; for we discovered in one 
instance a large hole, containing two apartments (so to call them), 
in each of which a man might *lie down. Fire places under the 
shade of the trees, with dried grass spread around, were often met 
with ; and these I apprehend to be their fine- weather, and the caves 
their foul-weather residences. The fern or some similar root, appears 


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146 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast 

1803, to form a part of their subsistence ; for there were some places in 
the sand and in the dry swamps, where the ground had been so dug 
up with pointed sticks that it resembled the work of a herd of swine. 
Whether these people reside constantly upon the islands, or 
come over at certain seasons from the main, was uncertain ; canoes, 
they seemed to have none, but to make their voyages upon rafts 
similar to those seen at Horse-shoe Island, and of which some were 
found on the shore in other places. I had been taught by the Dutch 
accounts to expect that the inhabitants of Carpentaria were ferocious, 
and armed with bows and arrows as well as spears. I found them 
to be timid ; and so desirous to avoid intercourse with strangers, that 
it was by surprise alone that our sole interview, that at Horse-shoe 
Island, was brought about ; and certainly there was then nothing 
ferocious in their conduct. Of bows and arrows not the least 
indication was perceived, either at these islands or at Coen River ; 
and the spears were too heavy and clumsily made, to be dangerous 
as offensive weapons : in the defensive, they might have some 

It is worthy of remark, that the three natives seen at Horse-shoe 
Island had lost the two upper front teeth ; and Dampier, in speaking 
of the inhabitants of the North-west Coast, says, " the two front teeth 
" of the upper jaw are wanting in all of them, men and women, old 
" and young/' Nothing of the kind was observed in the natives of the 
islands in Torres' Strait, nor at Keppel, Hervey's, or Glass-house 
Bays, on the East Coast ; yet at Port Jackson, further south, it is the 
custom for the boys, on arriving at the age of puberty, to have one 
of the upper front teeth knocked out, but no more ; nor are the girls 
subjected to the same operation. At Twofold Bay, still further south, 
no such custom prevails, nor did I observe it at Port Phillip or 
King George's Sound, on the South Coast ; but at Van Diemen's 
Land it seems to be used partially, for M. Labillardifere says ( p. 320 
of the London translation), " we observed some, in whom one of the 
/.* middle teeth of the upper jaw was wanting, and others in whom 

Digitized by 


WeOesley's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 141 

" both were gone. We could not learn the object of this custom ; 1802- 
V but it is not general, for the greater part of the people had all their 
" teeth." The rite of circumcision, which seemed to have been prac- 
tised upon two of the three natives at Horse-shoe Island/and of which 
better proofs were found in other parts of the Gulph of Carpentaria, 
is, I believe, novel in the history of Terra Australis. 

On Sweers' Island, seven human skulls and many bones were 
found lying together, near three extinguished fires; and a square 
piece of timber, seven feet long, which was of teak wood, and accord- 
ing to the judgment of the carpenter had been a quarter-deck carling 
of a ship, was thrown up on the western beach. On Bentinck's Island 
I saw the stumps of at least twenty trees, which had been foiled with 
an axe, or some sharp instrument of iron ; and not far from the 
same place were scattered the broken remains of an earthen jar. 
Putting these circumstances together, it seemed probable that some 
ship from the East Indies had been wrecked here, two or three years 
back ;— that part of the crew had been killed by the Indians ; — and 
that the others had gone away, perhaps to the main land, upon rafts 
constructed after the manner of the natives. This could be no more 
than conjecture ; but it seemed to be so supported by the facts, that 
I felt anxious to trace the route of the unfortunate people, and to 
relieve them from the distress and danger to which they must be 

The advantages to be obtained here by a ship are briefly these : 
shelter against all winds in the Investigator's Road, wood for fuel, 
fresh water, and a tolerable abundance of fish and turtle; for to an- 
ticipate a little on the voyage, there are islands lying within reach of 
a. boat from the Road, where the turtle are not disturbed by the 
Indians. Should it ever enter into the plan of an expedition,to penetrate 
into the interior of Terra Australis from the head of the Gulph of 
Carpentaria, the Investigator's Road is particularly well adapted for 
a ship during the absence of the travellers :. the season most favour- 
able to their operations would be in May, June, and July ; but not so 
for the vessel, as the crew would probably be unable to procure 

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148 A VOYAGE TO INortk Coa*. 

iw2. turtle at that time. For a similar expedition from the opposite part 
avero r. ^ ^ e g^^ QQ Z9tf September, October, and November would seem 
to be most proper. 

From the time of first arriving, to that of quitting Sweers' 
Island, the range of the thermometer on board the ship was between 
8i # and 90 , and on shore it might be 5* to io # higher in the day 
time; the weather was consequently warm ; but being alleviated by 
almost constant breezes either from sea or land, it was seldom op- 
pressive ; and the insects were not very troublesome. The mercury 
in the barometer ranged between 30,06 and 29,70. It stood highest 
with the winds from the sea, between north-east and north-west ; 
and lowest When they blew gently off the land, between south-east 
and south-west, but most so from the latter direction. On the South 
Coast the winds from these points had produced a contrary effect : the 
mercury there stood lowest when the northern winds blew, and 
highest when they came from the southward; they coincided, how- 
ever, so far, in that the sea winds raised, and the land winds de- 
pressed the mercury, the same as was observed at Port Jackson on 
the East Coast. 

The latitude of Inspection Hill, from several 

single and two double observations, was 17° 8' 15" S. 
Longitude from forty-two sets of lunar distances 
taken by lieutenant Flinders, the particulars 
of which are given in Table III. of the Ap- 
pendix No. I. to this volume, - 139 44 52 E. 
The rates of the time keepers were deduced from morning's 
altitudes, taken with a sextant and artificial horizon at the shore 
under Inspection Hill, from Nov. 16 to 29; and the mean rates dur- 
ing this period, with the errors from mean Greenwich time at noon 
there on the 30th, were as under : 

Earnshaw's No. 543, slow » h 16' 29^,51 and losing 14^,74 per day. 
5*0 - 3 53 19, 70 - - 20, 01 
The longitude given by the time keepers, with the rates from 
Upper Head in Broad Sound, on our arrival Nov. 16, was by 

Digitized by 


WeUesleifs Islands.} TERRA AUSTRAL1S. 149 

No. 548, - H° e 6' ss" 9 z east . i**- 


520, - 139 47 4*',* 
No. 520 therefore differed very little to the east of the lunar observa- 
tions, and the first day's rate was almost exactly the same as that 
with which we had quitted Upper Head ; whilst No. 543 differed 
greatly, both in longitude and rate. A similar discordance had been 
noticed at the Cumberland Island, marked /e, twenty days after 
leaving Upper Head ; No. 520 then differed only 1' i",a from the 
survey, but No. 543 erred 7' s",2 to the east. I have therefore been 
induced to prefer the longitude given by No. 520, to the mean of 
both time keepers ; and accordingly, the positions of places before 
mentioned or laid down in the charts, between Upper Head and 
Sweers' Island, including Torres' Strait, are from this time keeper 
alone ; with such small correction equally proportioned, as its error 
from the lunars, 2 # 5o",2 to the east in fifty-two days, made necessary. 
No. 543 had undergone some revolution on the passage, but 
seemed at this time to be going steadily ; whereas No. 520, which had 
kept its rate so well, now varied from i8",79 to «5",39, and ceased 
to be entitled to an equal degree of confidence. 

Mean dip of the south end of the needle, observed 

upon the west point of Sweers' Island, - 44° 27' 

Variation of the theodolite in the same place, - 4 7 E. 
D°. of the surveying compass in the Road, 2 28' . 

with the ship's head E. N. E., and 4° 30' with the 
. head northward; the mean corrected to the 
meridian, will be - - - 4 31 E. 

In bearings taken on the east side of Bentinck's Island, the varia- 
tion appeared to be a full degree greater than on the west side of 
Sweers' Island. 

The tides in the Investigator's Road ran N. N. E. and S. S. W., 
as the channel lies, and their greatest rate at the springs, was one 
mile and a quarter per hour; they ran with regularity, but there was 
only one flood and one ebb in the day. The principal part of the 

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190 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1802. flood came from N. N. E. ; but according to lieutenant Fowler's 
remarks on shore, between the 23rd and 27th, it was high water 
three hours after the opposite tide had set in ; or about three hours 
and a quarter before the moon came to the meridian. At the Prince 
of Wales' Islands, and at Coen River, it had also appeared that the 
tide from south-west made high water. The time here happened 
between 8j h and iij h at night, from the 23rd to the 27th; but 
whether high water will always take place at night, as it did at King 
George's Sound on the South Coast, I cannot be certain. About 
twelve feet was the greatest rise, which I apprehend would be 
diminished to eight, at the neap tides. 

Digitized by 


Wettesley't Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 151 


Departure from Sweers' Island. South side of C. Van Diemen examined. 
Anchorage at Bountiful Island: turtle and sharks there. Land of 
C. Van Diemen proved to be an island. Examination of the main 
coast to Cape Vanderlin. That cape found to be one of a group of 
islands. Examination of the islands; their soil, &c. Monument of 
the natives. Traces of former visitors to these parts. Astronomical 
and nautical observations. 

O n the ist of December we got under way, and passed the reef lsoa. 
at the south-east end of Sweers' Island. I wished to run close along wednL. 1; 
the north side of this, and of Bentinck's Island, and get in with the (Atlas, 
main land to the west; but the shoal water and dry banks lying off 
them presented so much impediment, that we steered north-west- 
ward for land which came in sight in that direction. At noon, the 
land was distant six or seven miles, and appeared to be the inner 
part of that great projection of the main, represented in the old chart 
under the name of Cape Van Diemen ; but the rocky nature of the 
shore and unevenness of the surface were so'different from the sandy 
uniformity of the continent, that I much doubted of its connexion. 
Our situation at this time, and the bearings taken were as under : 

Latitude, observed to the north and south, - 16 48' 29" 

Land of Cape Van Diemen, - N. 70 W. to 35 W. 

A piece apparently separated, - N. 18 W. to 11 E. 

Bentinck's I., highest part at the north end, S. 15 E. 

A smoke was rising in the direction of Horse-shoe Island, but no 
land was there visible. 

We had a light breeze at E. by N., and steered westward alpng 
the rocky shore, at the distance of two or three miles, till five in the 


Digitized by 


152 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

t> 18 °*L evening ; when the breeze having shifted to S. W., we tacked and 

Wedncs. i. came to an anchor in 6 fathoms, mud and shells. The land was then 
distant three miles, and extended from N. 6i°E. to a point with a 
clump of high trees on it, which appeared to be the south-west ex- 
tremity of the northern land and bore N. 84 W. Whether the 
space between it and the main near Allen's Isle were the entrance of 
an inlet, or merely a separation of the two lands, could not be dis- 
tinguished ; but the tide set W. by S., into the opening, and there 
was a low island and many rocks in it. From an amplitude at this 
anchorage, the variation was 3 16' east, corrected to the meridian, 
nearly the same as at Allen's Isle, five leagues to the south ; and a 
full degree less than in the Investigator's Road. 

ThuTB. 2. At five next morning we steered for the opening, with light, 

variable winds. On each side of the low island and rocks there 
seemed t6 be passages leading into a large spread of water, like the 
sea ; and our course was directed for the northernmost, until the 
water shoaled to 2 j fathoms and we tacked to the southward. The 
south-west point of the northern land then bore N. 74* W. four miles, 
and the north end of Allen's Isle was seen from the mast head, 
bearing S. 3 W. five leagues ; but that part of the opening between 
them, not occupied by the main land, seemed to be so choaked with 
rocks that there was little prospect of a passage for the Investigator. 
This being the case, and the wind becoming unfavourable to the 
search, we steered back eastward, along the shore ; and at eight in 
the evening, anchored near the furthest part yet seen in that direc- 
tion, in 6£ fathoms, sand and shells. 

Friday 3. At daylight, the piece of hilly land before judged to be an 

island, and which still appeared so, bore N. 86° to 28 W.,two or 
three miles, with some nearer rocks lying in front ; the northern 
land extended from behind it to N. 32 E., and we followed its course 
at the distance of five, and from that to two miles offshore. At noon 
we approached the eastern extremity, and saw a small island two 
leagues further out, one of three laid down in the old chart near 

Digitized by 


WeUesUy's Islands..'] TERRA AUSTRAL1S. 153 

Cape Van Diemen; it is thickly covered with wood, principally of rk 1809 1 : 
that softish, white kind, whence it obtained the name of Isle Pisonia. Friday s. 
Another and a larger island afterwards opened from the cape ; but 
this could not be one of the three, for it lies so close, that Tasman, 
or whoever discovered these parts, would scarcely have observed 
the separation ; and in fact, the other two isles presently came in 
sight to the southward, nearly in the situation assigned to them. 
The wind being unfavourable to doubling the cape, we bore away for 
the two islands ; and soon after four o'clock, anchored on the south- 
east side of the outermost, in 6y fathoms, good holding ground. 

Turtle tracks were distinguished on the beach as we rounded 
the north-east point, and afforded us the pleasurable anticipation of 
some fresh food. We had explored tropical coasts for several months, 
without reaping any one of the advantages usually attending it, and 
been frequently tantalized with the sight of turtle in the water, 
and of bones and shells round the fire places on shore ; but we now 
hoped to have found a place where the Indians had not forestalled 
us, and to indemnify ourselves for so many disappointments. 

In rowing to the Island, we carried 5 fathoms nearly close to 
the beach. Several turtle were swimming about, and some perceived 
above high- water mark, which we ran to secure, but found them 
dead,* and rotten ; they appeared to have fallen on their backs in 
climbing up a steep part of the beach, and not being able to right 
themselves, had miserably perished. I walked the greater part of the 
length of the island ; and from the highest hillock set the eastern 
extreme of the island close to Cape Van Diemen, atN. 34** W., and 
Isle Pisonia from N. 2s|° to 19I- W. 

During my absence from the boat, the impatient crew, not 
waiting for the turtle to come on shore, had been attacking them in 
the water ; and had caught three large ones, and broken my har- 
poon. They had also been scratching out some of the holes, of which 
the upper pirt of the sandy beach was full ; from one they filled a 
hat with turtles eggs, and from another took a swarm of young* 
vol. 11. X 

Digitized by 


^* A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

Dece^r ones, not broader than a crown piece, which I found crawling in 
Friday s. every part of the boat. It was then past sunset, and numbers of 
turtle were collected, waiting only for our departure to take th^ 
beach ; I therefore hastened to the ship, and sent lieutenant Fowler 
with a party of men, to remain all night and turn them. 
Saturdays Next morning, two boats went to bring off the officer and 

people with what had been caught ; but theft- success had been so 
great, that it was necessary to hoist out the launch ; and it took 
nearly the whole day to get on board what the decks and holds 
could contain, without impediment to the working of the ship. They 
were founcl by Mr. Brown to be nearly similar to, but not exactly 
the true green turtle, and he thought might be an undescribed species. 
We contrived to stow away forty-six, the least of them weighing 
95olbs, and the average about 300 ; besides which, many were 
re-turned on shore, and suffered to go away. 

This Bountiful Island, for so I termed it, is near three miles 
long, and generally low and sandy ; the highest parts are ridges of 
sand, overspread with a long, creeping, coarse grass, which binds 
the sand together, and preserves it from being blown away ; grass 
of the common kind grows in the lower parts, and in one place there 
were some bushes and small trees. The basis consists partly of a 
streaked, ochrous earth, and in part of sand, concreted with parti- 
cles of iron ore. Nothing bespoke this island to have been ever be- 
fore visited, whence it is probable that the natives of the neighbour- 
ing lands do not possess canoes ; for with them, the distance of four 
leagues from Cape Van Diemen would not have been too great to be 
passed, though too far in a tide's way for such rafts as I saw at 
Horse-shoe Island. 

A kind of bustard, with a very strong bill, and not larger than 

a hen, was numerous at Bountiful Island ; and appeared to subsist 

y upon the young turtle. The effect of instinct is admirable in all 

cases, and was very striking in these little amphibious creatures. 

When scratched out from their holes, they no sooner saw the day- 

Digitized by 


Wellesley's Islands] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 155 

light than they made for the water, and with speed, as if conscious isoa. 
that the bustards were watching them ; when placed in a direction Saturday 4. 
from thesea, which was done for experiment, they turned themselves 
and took the straightest course to the water side. But it is not only 
in the bustards, nor on land alqne, that they have enemies to fear ; 
tiger sharks were numerous, and so voracious, that seven were 
hooked along-side the ship, measuring from five to nine feet in length. 
These were ready to receive such of the little animals as escape their 
first enemies ; and even one of the full grown turtle had lost a semi- 
circular piece, equal to the tenth part of its bulk, which had been 
bitten out of its side ; and what seemed more extraordinary, the shell 
had closed, and the place was healed up, Wepe it not for the im* 
mense destruction made of these animals in the different stages of 
their existence,, and that food must in- the end fail, their fecundity is 
such, that all the tropical seas and shores would scarcely afford room 
for them in a few years. The number of eggs found in the females, 
and there were few, if any males amongst the forty -six taken here, 
usually ran from four to seven hundred ; and in one weighing 
459 lbs, taken earlier in the following season, the number of eggs 
counted was 194,0, as recorded in lieutenant Fowler's journal*; but 
many were not bigger, some not so large as peas. They seem to 
lay from twenty to a hundred eggs at once, and this is done many 
times in the season ; after which they go very little on shore. In 
Terra Australis, the season appears to commence in August, and to 
terminate in January or February. 

The latitude of our anchorage, one mile from the south-east side 
of Bountiful Island, was 16* 41' south. lieutenant Flinders observed 
six sets of lunar distances, which gave 139 46' 18" east longitude ; 
but the time keeper No. 543 made it 1$ east of Inspection Hill, or in 
*39 # 59j* The variation of the compass, from azimuth and ampli- 
tude observed with the ship's head in the magnetic meridian, was 
3 46' east ; and at my station on shore, an amplitude with the 
theodolite gave 3 47' east. From a little past ten in the morning 

Digitized by 


156 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast 

1802. to eleven at night, the tide ran half a mile an hour to the S. W., and 

December. & * 

Saturday 4. N. E. during the remainder of the twenty-four hours ; the first, 
which seemed to be the flood, was only three hours after the moon, 
above six hours earlier than in the Investigator's Road ; but the 
time of high water by the shore might be very different : no greater 
rise than five feet was perceivable by the lead line. 

Sunday 5. In the morning of the 5th, we quitted Bountiful Island to re- 

sume our examination at Ope Van Diemen ; and the weather being 
rainy, with thunder and lightning, and the wind fresh at N. N. E., 
we passed round the smaller island, two miles to the south-west, 
before hauling to the northward. A ten o'clock, Cape Van Diemen 
was distant three miles, and we tacked to the east ; and from that time 
till evening, continued to work up between the cape and a shoal lying 
two leagues from it to the E. S. E. This shoal is a narrow ridge of 
sand, over which we had passed in going to Bountiful Island ; but 
there were now breakers upon a more southern part. It seems to be 
formed by different sets of tide amongst the islands, and to be steep 
to; for in passing over, the soundings had been 13, 4, 5, 7, 11 
fathoms, almost as quick as the lead could be heaved. At dusk the 
wind had gone down, and the anchor was dropped in 6 fathoms, 
sand and shells, in the following situation. 

C. Van Diemen, the S. E. extreme, dist. 3 miles, - S. 75 W. 
The island close to it, N. 57 to 21 W. 

Isle Pisonia, distant 3 miles, - N. 55 to 61 E. 

Bountiful I., station on the green hillock, - S. 40 E. 

That part of Cape Van Diemen above set, is in latitude 16* 32' south, 
* and longitude 139 49^ east. 

The tide here set N. N. E. and S.S. W., between the island 

Monday 6. close to the cape and Isle Pisonia; and at daylight we steered for 

the middle of the opening. On seeing breakers a-head, the master 

was sent in the whale boat to sound, and we kept more westward, 

after him. There were natives upon the island nearest to the land, 

Digitized by 


Wellesletfs Islands.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 157 

who seemed to wait in expectation of being visited ; but our sound- ^ 18(y2 - 

r ° December. 

ings diminishing to 3 fathoms, and the master haying still less, we Mondays. 
stood out and were followed by the boat. The wind was then 
at N. E. ; and Isle Pisonia being brought to bear N. W. at nine 
o'clock, we tacked and weathered it nearly a mile, carrying from 9 
to 13 fathoms water. Turtle tracks were very distinguishable upon 
the beach, but these prognostics, once so much desired, did not now 
interest us ; however, on the wind becoming so light that we could 
not weather some breakers whilst the lee tide was running, the 
stream anchor was dropped in 9 fathoms, and I went to the island 
with the botanical gentlemen. 

More holes were scratched in the sand here by the turtle, than 
even upon the island last quitted ; and several of the poor animals 
were lying dead on their backs. The isle is nothing more than i 
high sand bank upon a basis of coral rock, which has become thickly 
covered with wood, and much resembles several of the smaller isles 
in Torres' Strait. There was no trace of former visitors, though 
it is not more than four miles from the island where Indians had 
been seen in the morning; the tides probably run too strong in 
a narrow, four-fathom channel, close to Isle Pisonia, to be encoun- 
tered by their rafts. 

Next morning, the wind was at N. E. ; and after weathering a Tuesday 7. 
reef which runs out three miles from the island under Cape Van 
Diemen, we closed in with the land, and steered westward along it 
with soundings from 9 to 4 fathoms. A low head with white cliffs 
was passed at nine o'clock, and proved to be the northernmost 
point of this land; beyond it the coast extended W. byS., in a long 
sandy beach, and the country was better clothed with trees than on 
the south side. At noon we came abreast of a low woody point, 
with a shoal running off, where the coast took a south-west direction ; 
and our situation and bearings were then as under : 

Digitized by 


M» A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

• jkJJJJLf Latitude, observed to the north, 16 36' 

Tuesday f. Longitude, from time keeper and bearings, - 139 35 

Cliffy north head of this land, - N. 86 E. 

Woody shoal point, distant two miles, - S. 35 E. 

Furthest southern extreme, - - S. 29 W. 

Islet from the mast head, distant 3 leagues, - North. 

From one o'clock till four, we steered S. S. W. past three 
other small cliffy projections; and I then saw the clump of high trees 
on the south-west point of this land, bearing S. 31 E. six miles, the 
same which had been set five days before from the inner side. Our 
course was continued, to get in with the main land ; but in half an 
hour the depth had diminished to s£ fathoms, and obliged us to haul 
out W. by N., close to the wind. The low main coast was then in 
sight from the mast head to the south-westward, and at dusk we 
anchored about three leagues off, in 5 fathoms, sandy bottom. 

• No doubt remained that the land of Cape Van Diemen was an 
island ; for it had been circumnavigated, with the exception of about 
three leagues, which the rocks and shoal water made impracticable. 
Its extent is considerable, being thirty-five miles long, and the cir- 
cumference near ninety, independently of the smaller sinuosities in 
the coast; I did not land upon any part, but the surface appeared to 
be more rocky than sandy ; and judging from the bushes and trees 
with which it is mostly covered, there must be some portion, though 
perhaps a small one, of vegetable soil. In any other part of the 
world, this would be deemed lo^v land ; but here, where even the 
tops of the trees on the main scarcely exceed a ship's mast head in 
elevation, it must be -called moderately high; for it may in some 
_ * parts, reach three hundred feet. Several smokes and some natives 
were seen, and it is reasonable to suppose there are fi^ed inhabitants, 
but their number is probably small. 

Had not the name of Van Diemen so often occurred in Terra 
Australis, as to make confusion, I should have extended it from the 
cape to the whole island ; but such being the case, I have taken this 
opportunity of indulging my gratitude to a nobleman of high cha- 

Digitized by 

y Google 

WeUesUy's Islands.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 159 

racter and consideration ; who, when governor-general of British j^^^ 
India, humanely used his efforts to relieve me from an imprisonment Tuesday r. 
which was super-added to a shipwreck in the sequel of the voyage. 
This large island is therefore distinguished by the name of Isle 
Mornington; and to the whole of the groyp, now discovered to exist 
at the head of the Gulph of Carpentaria, I have given the appellation 
of Wellesley's Islands. 

In the morning of the 8th, the wind was light from the southr Wednes. *. 
ward, and unfavourable for closing in with the main land ; but a 
water spout brought the wind up from north-east, and obliged us to 
double reef the top sails. At noon the squalls had mostly passed 
over, and the shore, which then extended from S. E. by S. to W. S. W., 
was distant five miles in the nearest part ; our latitude being then 
16 6 433-' south, and longitude 138* 49' east. We continued to steer 
Westward till five o'clock, at nearly the same distance from the land, 
and in soundings between 5 and 3 fathoms ; the wind then drew 
forward, and the trending of the shore being W. N. W., we could 
barely lie along it. At seven, tacked for deeper water; and in half 
an hour anchored in 4 fathoms, sand and shells, the land being dis-> 
tant five or six miles, and the furthest extreme from the mast head 
bearing N. 70 W. A meridian altitude of the star Achernar gave 
the latitude 16 39^; and from the sun's western amplitude the 
variation was 4 io', with the ship's head N. W., or a° 37' east* cor- 
rected to the meridian. * 


The main land, from Wellesley's Islands to this anchorage, is 
of the same description as that along which we had previously sailed 
a hundred and ninety leagues, being a very low, woody country, 
fronted by a sandy beach; there are some slight wavings in the 
shore, but so slight, that not any part of it could be set twice. This 
tedious uniformity began, however, to be somewhat broken ; for a 
range of low hills was perceived at three or four leagues inland, and 
the sinuosities of the shore were becoming more distinguishable: 
two smokes were seen during the day* 

Digitized by 


160 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 


Dc 18 °?be ^ ur P r0 S ress next morning was very little, until the sea breeze 

Thursday 9. set in; and we were then obliged, from the more northern trending 
of the coast, to keep up to the wind. The soundings varied between 
6 and $ fathoms ; and at five in the evening diminished rather sud- 
denly to Sj, on a rocky bottom, two or three miles from the land. 
We then tacked, and worked to windward till dark, when the anchor 
was dropped in 4^ fathoms upon rocky ground covered with mud ; 
but as there was little wind and no sea, the anchor held. The 
observed latitude here, from the moon, was 16 28', and longitude 
by time keeper 138 6j east. 
Priday 10. During the night, the wind came as usual off the land; and in 

the morning we lay up N. by W., nearly parallel to the then direc- 
tion of the coast. At ten, the sea breeze set in at N. by W.; and 
from that time until evening we worked to windward, tacking from 
the shore when the depth diminished to 2j fathoms, and stretching 
in again when it increased to 6 ; the distances from the land being 
in miles, as nearly as might be what the depth was in fathoms, a 
coincidence which had been observed in some parts on the east side 
of the Gulph. At sunset, a hillock upon a projecting point bore 
N. 73 W. four miles, and behind it was a small opening which 
answered in situation to the River Van Alphen of the old chart ; our 
last tack was then made from the shore; and at dusk we anchored in 
4 fathoms, coarse sand and gravel. Variation from amplitude, with 
the head W. by N., 4* 45', or corrected to the meridian, 2 38' east, 
nearly as on the 8th. 
Saturday 11. At daylight, we steered northward with a land wind; and 

when the sea breeze came, stretched W. S. W. towards the shore. 
At noon, 

Latitude observed, - - - i6°iij' 

Longitude by time keeper, - - *37 53 

The extremes of the land bore - S. 21 E. tq 89 W. 
Nearest part, dist. 3 miles, - - S. 35 W. 

Small opening, supposed ,R. Van Alphen, - S. 3 W. 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA . 161 

This opening may be half a mile in width, but a dry sand runs across i«k. 
from the west side, and left no prospect of its being accessible to the Saturday u, 
ship; the shoal water, indeed, extended further out than usual, being 
caused, probably, by a deposit of sand from the inlet. The range 
of low hills, before mentioned as running behind the coast, was still 
perceived; but in front, the country was low as before, and somewhat 
less covered with wood. 

The direction of the coast, which had been from north to north- 
west the day before, was now again W. N. W. ; and after making a 
tack at noon, in 3 fathoms, and stretching off for an hour, we lay 
along it till near eight o'clock. At that time the depth diminished 
from 3j, suddenly to s j fathoms ; and before the helm was put down 
the ship touched upon a rock, and hung abaft. By keeping the sails 
full she went off into 3 fathoms, but in five minutes hung upon 
another rock ; and the water being more shallow further on, the 
head sails were now laid aback. On swinging off, I filled to stretch 
out by the way we had come ; and after another slight touch of the 
keel we got into deep water, and anchored in 4 fathoms, on a bottom 
of blue mud. The bad state of the ship would have made our situa- 
tion amongst these rocks very alarming, had we not cleared them 
«o quickly; but the water was very smooth at this time, and it could 
not be perceived that any injury had been sustained. 

Our distance here from the shore was three miles. It is very 
low and broken, with many dry rocks and banks lying near it ; and in 
the space of seven or eight miles we had counted five small open- 
ings, and behind them some lagoons were perceived from the mast 
head. The Abel TasmarCs River of the old chart is marked in about 
this situation ; and however little these shallow openings and salt 
lagoons resemble a river, there is no other place to which the name 
could have been applied. 

I was preparing to take altitudes of the star Rigel, to ascertain 
our longitude at this anchorage, when it was found that the time 
keepers had stopped, my assistant haying forgotten to wind them up 
vol. 11. Y 

Digitized by 


162 A VOYAGE f 6 {North Cocut. 

i8<». at noon, tn the morning: they were set forward, and altitudes of 
Sunday is. the sun taken to find their errors from the time under this meridian. 
The moon and planet Mars had been observed in the ntght, from 
which, and the noon's observation following, the latitude of the 
anchorage was ascertained to be i6° j±' ; and a projection on the 
west side of the R. Van Alphen, which had been the nearest shore 
at the preceding noon, was now set at S. 6^° E. From these data 
and from the log, I ascertained the difference of longitude, from 
half past ten in the morning of the nth, when the last observations 
for the time keepers had been taken, to be ao' 18" ; and that this 
anchorage was in 1 37*37' 18" east. The errors from mean Greenwich 
time were thence obtained ; and they were carried on as before, with 
the rates found at Sweers' Island, which it was to be presumed, had 
undergone ho alteration from the letting down, since none had 
been caused by former accidents of the same kind. An amplitude 
taken when the ship's head was W. N. W., gave variation 3 46', or 
l # 47' east, corrected to the meridian ; being nearly a degree less 
than on the east side of the River Van Alphen, when the land lay to 
the west of the ship. 

Soon after seven o'clock, the anchor was weighed ; and the 
breeze being at N. W., we stretched off till noon, when - the observed 
latitude from both sides was 16* a' 11", and the land was nine or 
ten miles distant ; but the only part visible from the deck was 
- the range of low hills, two or three leagues behind the shore. We 
then tacked to the westward, and kept closing in with the coast until 
sunset ; at which time the corrected variation was i° 47' east, as on 
the preceding evening, and the following bearings were taken. 

Eastern extreme of the shore - - S. 31 E. 

Small opening, dist. 4 or 5 miles, - S. 54 W. 

Western extreme of the main, a sandy head, N. 75 W. 
Beyond the head, much higher land than any we had passed in the 
gulph, was seen from aloft as far as N. W. by N. This I expected 
was the Cape Vanderlin of the old chart ; and if so, there ought to 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 168 

be a large double bay between it and the sandy head ; ancj, in fact, 180 *« 
no land was visible there in a space of two points. Sunday ia! 

Our course along the shore was prolonged till dusk, when 
we tacked in 3 £ fathoms ; and on getting 4^, came to an anchor 
upon fine sandy ground. In the morning, the wind was light from Monday 13. 
the south-westward, and little progress was made until the sea 
breeze, set in. At noon, our situation was in 

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 15 50' 31" 
. Longitude by time keeper, - - 137 19I 

West extreme of the sandy head, dist. 7 miles, S. 24 W. 
Land of Cape Vanderlin, - N. 28 to S. 88 W. 
, highest part, - - N. 56 W. 

, sandy east point, dist. 6 miles, N. 47 W. 

Low islet off the south end, - S. 77^ to S. 85 W. 
Many rocks are scattered along the east side of this land ; 
some of them are steep, and one, which we approached within a mile 
soon after one o'clock, resembled the crown of a hat. The whale 
boat was then sent towards the opening, and we bore away S. W. 
by S. after her ; but the water shoaling fast, and looking worse , 
a-head, we hauled out close to the wind, and worked northward ; 
. anchoring at dusk, two or three miles from the east point of the 
northern land, in 6 fathoms, coarse sand and shells. 

The main coast on the south side of the opening had been seen 
extending W. N. W., two or three leagues from the sandy head ; it 
was low as ever, and there was no appearance of the northern land, 
which was hilly and rocky, being connected with it ; and I therefore 
called the separated piece Vanderlin s Island. Having no prospect 
of being able to get the ship up the opening, we proceeded north- 
ward next morning, along the «ast side of the island ; but the wind Tuesday 14. 
being directly contrary, it was sunset before the outermost of the 
scattered rocks could be weathered ; soon afterward the anchor was 
dropped in 6 fathoms, one mile and a quarter from the north-east 
point, and something more from the outer rocks which bore S. 63° E, 
The north point of the island, which is the true Cape Vanderlin, bore 

Digitized by 


M4 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

Briber. ^ 7 1 * ^> an< * was distant three or four miles : its utmost extre- 
Tuetday 14. mity lies in 15° 34^' south, and 137* 8£' east. 

Some Indians had been seen tracking a canoe or raft, along the 
east side, and a body of thirty-five of them had been there collected, 
looking at the ship. This comparatively numerous population, and the 
prospect there was of this island proving more than usually interest- 
ing to the naturalists, made me desirous of finding a secure anchorage 
Wednes. 15. near it; and in the morning we landed at the north-east point, which 
is a peninsula joined to the island by a low sandy neck, and has three 
hummocks upon it, near the extremity. From the highest of these 
hummocks, I set two small islands in the offing, to the north-west, 
where two are laid down in the old chart; and saw more land to the 
west of Cape Vanderlin, apparently a large and distinct island. The 
water between them was extensive; and as it promised to afford 
good shelter, we returned on board after a short examination,, iii 
order to work the ship into it. 

A hard, close-grained sand stone forms the basis of the north- 
east point of Vanderlin's Island; but the hummocks and the upper 
rocks are calcareous, similar to Inspection Hill at the head of the 
Gulph. The soil is very sandy, and poorly clothed with vegetation; 
though in the more central parts of the island the hills seemed to be 
moderately well covered with wood. There were foot marks of 
men, dogs, and kanguroos, and tracks of turtle near the shore ; but 
none of the men, nor of the animals, were seen. 

We got under way soon after ten o'clock, with a breeze from 
the north-westward, and were obliged to make a long stretch to sea 
before Cape Vanderlin could be weathered. Towards evening we 
came in with a small reef, lying N. 40° E. two-and-half miles from 
the extremity of the cape ; and this, with the lateness of the hour, 
making it hazardous to run into the new opening, we anchored at 
dusk, under the easternmost of the two small islands in the offing, 
in 6 fathoms, coral sand and rock. The white beach here seemed 
to be so favourable a situation for turtle, that an officer with a party 

Digitized by 



Pdkw's Group.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 165 

of men was sent on shore to watch them ; but he returned immedi- ^ 1802 « 


ately, on finding the beach to be not sand, but pieces of coral bleached Wedne*. is. 
white by the sun, which bore no traces of turtle. 

I landed early in the morning, with the botanical gentlemen, Thuw. 1$. 
to take bearings ; and amongst them set the craggy north end of the 
western island, which I call Cape Pellew, at S. 87 W., distant three 
or four miles. It lies in latitude 16 30 j', longitude 13 f 2', and there 
is a rock lying half a mile off to the N. E. ; indeed these two small 
isles and another rock may be considered as also lying off, and apper- 
taining to it. The basis of the easternmost and largest isle was found 
to be the same close-grained sand stone as at Vanderlin's Island ; 
but the surface consisted of loose pieces of coral, with a slight inter- 
mixture of vegetable soil, producing a few shrubs and small bushes: 
there were no traces either of men or turtle. 

On our return to the ship, we steered for the opening between 
the Capes Vanderlin and Pellew; the wind was from the north-west- 
ward, and this being now the most settled quarter for it, we anchored 
under the western island, in 4|- fathoms soft bottom, half a mile from 
the shore; with the extremes bearing N. 25 E. one mile, and S. 23 W. 
two miles. An outer rocky islet near Cape Vanderlin bore N. 70 E., 
and a small island within half a mile of the ship covered, five points 
in the south-eastern quarter; to the south there was very little land 
visible, but no sea was to be feared from that side ; and the sole direc- 
tion in which we were not sheltered, was between N. N. E. and E. N. E, 

The botanical gentlemen landed abreast of the ship, and lieu- 
tenant Flinders went to commence a series of observations for the 
rates of the time keepers on the small isle, thence called Observation 
Island. My attention was attracted by a cove in the western shore, 
upon the borders of which, more abundantly than elsewhere, grew a 
small kind of cabbage palm, from whence it was called Cabbage-tree 
Cove. This presented the appearance of a complete little harbour ; 
and supposing it to afford fresh water, was just such a place as I 
wished for the ship, during the time necessary for making an exami- 

Digitized by 


166 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast, 

1802. nation of the islands in my whale boat. I found the cove to run 

December. •* 

Tkundsy 16. Dear two miles into the island, and there was a small rill at the head; 
but unfortunately, the depth at the entrance was insufficient for the 
ship, being no more than s fathoms, and in the upper part it was too 
shallow even for a boat. 
Friday ir. In the morning, a party of men was sent to cut wood at the 

nearest shore; and there being a sort of beach, uncovered at low 
tide, the seine was hauled there with some success. A small drain 
of fresh water ran behind the mangroves at the back of the beach, 
and by cutting a rolling way to it, our empty casks, it was thought, 
might be filled ; but I hoped to find a better place, and went away 
in the boat, as well with that object in view as to carry on the survey. 
From the furthest part of the western island visible from the 
ship, I found the shore trending S. 73° W., to a point where there 
was an opening out to the westward, of a mile and a half wide and 
of considerable depth. About three leagues up the opening were 
two craggy islands; and beyond them was more extensive land, 
which proved to be an island also, and from its situation in this group 
was called West Island. The island whose north end is Cape Pellew, 
and whose southern extremity I had now reached, was called North 
Island; and the land opposite to me, which formed the south side of 
the opening and seemed to be extensive, is marked with the name of 
Centre Island in the chart. These lands are moderately high, and 
seemed to form several coves and small inlets, with promise of runs 
of fresh water; but the weather was too unfavourable to make much 
examination at this time, and after taking bearings from the south 
' and south-east points of North Island, I returned on board. 

Saturday is. The wooding of the ship was carried on next day; and al- 

though the weather remained squally, with frequent heavy rain, 
some further bearings were obtained, and observations taken for the 

Sunday 19. time keepers. In the morning of the 19th, the weather cleared, and 
I took the ship over to Cape Vanderlin ; both for the convenience of 
the survey, and to giw the botanical gentlemen a better opportunity 

Digitized by 


/Wfcic'* Group.} TERRA AUSTRALIA I6J 

of examining that island, which appeared to be the most interesting, ***L. 
as it was the largest of the group. Besides three rocky islets, lying Sund*j » 
off the west side of the cape, there is a small island one mile to the 
south-west, and I sought to anchor behind it ; but being prevented 
by a shoal which extends southward from the island, the anchor was f 
dropped half a mile without side, in 4^ fathoms, muddy ground. 

After the latitude had been observed, and bearings taken from 
the island, we crossed over in the boat to Cape Vanderlin. There 
was a depth of 4 to 7 fathoms between them, with a passage leading 
in from the north, and a ship would lie here in perfect safety during 
the south-east monsoon ; but with the present north-west winds and 
squally weather, this otherwise good anchorage was not equal to the 
place we had quitted. The highest parts of Cape Vanderlin are hil- 
locks of almost bare sand; on the isthmus behind it were many 
shrubs and bushes, and amongst the latter was found a wild nutmeg, 
in tolerable abundance. The fruit was small, and not ripe; but the 
mace and the nut had a hot, spicy taste. 

There was no appearance of fresh water here, nor was the ship 
in a situation safe to remain all night; so soon, therefore, as my 
bearings were taken from the top of Cape Vanderlin, we returned on 
board, and steered for the opening between North and Centre Islands, 
At dusk, the anchor was dropped in 6 fathoms, muddy ground, a 
little within the opening ; where we had land at different distances 
all round, with the exception of one point to the W. N. W. 

During the two days we remained here, I examined a shallow Tuesday 21. 
bay on the east side of Centre Island, and went to the westward as 
far as the Craggy Isles, taking bearings from various stations. 
Several rills of fresh water were found at the heads of little coves, 
but the depth was not sufficient for the ship to get near any of them; 
and therefore we returned to our first anchorage near Cabbage-tree Wedncs. <m 
Cove, to cut through the mangroves and get the holds completed 
with water at the small run there. This duty I left to the care of the 
first lieutenant, and the rates of the time keepers to be continued by the 

Digitized by 


168 A VOYAGE TO {North Coatt. 

i8°*L second ; and went away the same afternoon in my boat, upon an excur- 
"Wednes.s*. sioii of four days, accompanied by Mr. Westall, the landscape painter* 

The soundings we had in steering for the west point of Van- 
derlin's Island and southward along the shore, will be best known 
from the particular plan of this group. Bearings were taken at two 
chosen stations ; and we stopped in the evening, at the furthest of 
two small isles near the south-west side of the island, to pass the 
night without disturbance from the Indians. It then rained and blew 
hard, with thunder and lightning, and the soil being sandy and de- 
stitute of wood to break off the wind, it was with difficulty the tent 
could be secured ; the islet had been visited, and we found the re- 
mains of more than one turtle feast. Amongst the bearings set from 
hence, was a projecting part of the low main land, at S. ig±° W, six 
or seven miles, and it was the furthest visible. 
Thursdays. We had more moderate weather in the morning, and went on 

towards the south point of Vanderlin's Island ; but stopped two or 
three miles short of it, at a station whence the south point and the low 
islet lying off were visible, as also was the sandy head set from 
the ship on the 12th and 13th; and from the bearings of these 
objects my survey round Vanderlin's Island became connected. A 
part of the sandy main coast was distant not more than four miles to 
the S. S. W., whence it extended as far as S. (?«° W.; the water ap- 
peared to be too shallow for a ship to pass between it and the island. 

A fresh wind from the north-west prevented me from going 
any further to leeward ; and it was with much difficulty that we 
rowed back to the isle where we had passed the night. Strong 
squalls again came on towards evening, and the larger isle, lying a 
mile to the north-west, was chosen for our night's residence, on 
account of its affording some shelter; but the lightning was so violent 
and close to us, that I feared to place the tent near the trees, and was 
surprised in the morning, not to see half of them shivered to pieces; 
the rain fell in torrents, during a part of the night. 
Friday 24. Next morning the weather was better, but the wind still 

Digitized by 


Pettew's Oroup.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 169 

adverse to my project of going over to the south end of Centre 1802 - 
Island; by noon, however, we reached a low islet half way across, Friday $4. 
where I observed the latitude 15 42' 47", and took a set of bearings 
very useful to the survey; and we afterwards made an attempt to 
get over, and succeeded. A rocky hillock on the south-east point 
of Centre Island, was my next station; and from thence we proceeded 
westward along the south side, to a low islet near the south-west 
point, for the purpose of landing, the sun being then s6t; but the 
islet proving to be a mere mud bank covered with mangroves, we 
rowed onward to the large South-west Island, in very shallow water; 
and there passed a night which, happily for the fatigued boat's crew, 
turned out fine. 

I took azimuths and some bearings in the morning, and we Saturdays*, 
then proceeded northward through a small passage between the 
Centre and South-west Islands; there was 5 fathoms in the very 
narrow part, but no deep water within ; and without side, it was also 
very shoal for two or three miles. , Near the Jiorth-west point of 
Centre Island lies an islet and two rocks, and from the cliffy north 
end of the islet another set of bearings was taken ; after which we 
steered eastward, sounding along the north side of Centre Island. 
It was jnoon when we reached the north-east point, and I observed 
the latitude 15 39' 35'' upon the south-east end of a rocky islet there, 
and took more bearings from the' top; and in the afternopn, we 
reached the ship* 

Very little has been said upon the islands or their productions, 
or upon the various traces of native inhabitants and of former visitors , 

found in this, and in former boat excursions ; the observations on 
these heads being intended for the general and conclusive remarks 
upon this group. These are now to be given ; for the wooding and 
watering were completed on the day after my return, and the ship Sunday 2$. 
was then ready to proceed in the examination of the Gulph. 

in the old Dutch chart, Cape Vanderlin is represented to be a 
great projection from the main land, and the outer ends of North 
vot, 11. Z 

Digitized by 


170 A VOYAGE TO [North C<mt, 

i8o?. an d West Islands to be smaller points of it. There are two indents 


or bights marked between the points, which may correspond to the* 
openings between the islands ; but I find difficulty in pointing out 
which are the four small isles laid down to the west of Cape Van- 
derlin ; neither does the line of the coast, which is nearly W. S. W. 
in the old chart, correspond with that of the outer ends of the 
islands, and yet there is enough of similitude in the whole to show 
the identity. Whether any change have taken place in these shores; 
and made islands of what were parts of the main land a century and 
a half before,— or whether the Dutch discoverer made a distant and * 
cursory examination, and brought conjecture to aid him in the con- 
struction of a chart, as was too much the practice of that time, — it 
is perhaps not now possible to ascertain ; but I conceive that the 
great alteration produced in the geography of these parts by our sur- 
vey, gives authority to apply a name which, without prejudice to the 
original one, should mark the nation by which the survey was made; 
and in compliment to a distinguished officer of the British navy f 
whose earnest endeavours to relieve me from oppression in a sub- 
sequent part of the voyage demand my gratitude, I have called this 
cluster of islands Sir Edward Pellew's Group. 

The space occupied by these islands is thirty-four miles east 
and west, by twenty-two miles of latitude ; and the five principal 
islands are from seven to seventeen miles in length. The stone 
which seems to form the basis of the group is a hard, close-grained 
sand stone, with a small admixture of quartz r and in one or two 
instances it was slightly impregnated with iron ; calcareous, or coral 
rock was sometimes found at the upper parts, but the hard sand 
stone was more common. Where the surface is not bare rock, it 
consists of sand, with a greater or less proportion of vegetable soil, 
but in no case did I see any near approach to fertility ; yet all the 
larger islands, and more especially the western side of Vanderlin's, 
are tolerably well covered with trees and bushes, and in some low 
places there is grass. 

Digitized by 



As in most other parts of Terra Australis, the common trees ^ 18 *?* 

i m Decern!** 

here are various species of the eucalyptus, mostly different from, and 

smaller than those of the East and South Coasts. The cabbage 

palm, a new genus named by Mr. Brown Livistona inermis, is 

abundant ; but the cabbage is too small to be an interesting article 

of food to a ship's company ; of the young leaves, drawn into slips 

and dried, the seamen made handsome light hats, excellent for warm 

weather. The nutmeg was found principally on Vanderlin's Island, 

growing upon a large spreading bush ; but the fruit being unripe, 

no accurate judgment could be formed of its quality. Amongst the 

variety of other plants discovered by the naturalist, were two shrubs 

belonging to the genus Santalum, of which the sandel wood, used as a 

perfume in the East, is also one ; but this affinity to so valuable a tree 

being not known at the time, from the description of the genus being 

imperfect, no examination was made of it with that object in view. 

All the larger islands seem to possess the kanguroo; for 
though none were seen, their foot marks were perceptible in most 
of the sandy places where I landed : the species seemed to be small. 
In the woods were hawks, pigeons of two kinds, and some bustards ; 
and on the shore were seen a pretty kind of duck and the usual stea 
fowl. Turtle tracks were observed on most of the beaches, but more 
especially on the smaller islands, where remains of turtle feasts 
were generally found. 

There were traces of Indians on all the islands* both large 
and small, but the latter are visited only at times ; thesfe people 
seemed to be equally desirous of avoiding communicatioft With 
strangers, as those of Wellesley's Islands, for we saw them only 
once at a distance, from the ship. Two canoes found on the shore 
of North Island were formed of slips of bark, like planks, sewed 
together, the edge of one slip overlaying another, as in our clincher- 
built boats ; their breadth was about two feet, but they were too 
much broken for the length to be known. I cannot be certain that 
these canoes were the fabrication of the natives, for there were 

Digitized by 


172 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1802. some things near them which appertained , without doubt, to another 
people, and their construction was much superior to that on any 
part of Terra Austral is hitherto discovered ; but their substance of 
bark spoke in the affirmative. The same degree of doubt was 
attached to a small monument found on the same island. Under a 
shed of bark were set up two cylindrical pieces of stone, about 
eighteen inches long ; which seemed to have been taken from the 
shore, where they had been made smooth from rolling in the surf, 
and formed into a shape something like a nine pin. Round each of 
them were drawn two black circles, one towards each end; and 
between them were four oval black patches, at equal distances round 
the stone, made apparently with charcoal. The spaces between the 
oval marks were covered with white down and feathers, stuck on 
with the yolk of a turtle's egg, as I judged by the gluten and by the 
shell lying near the place. Of the intention in setting up these 
stories under a shed, no person could form a reasonable conjecture ; 
the first idea was, that it had some relation to the dead, and we dug^ 
underneath to satisfy our curiosity ; but nothing was found. This 
simple monument is represented in the annexed plate, with two of 
the ducks near it : the land in the back ground is Vanderlin's Island. 
Indications of some foreign people having visited this group 
; were almost as numerous, and as widely extended as those left by 
the natives. Besides pieces of earthen jars and trees cut with axes, 
tve found remnants of bamboo lattice work, palm leaves sewed with 
cotton thread into the form of such hats as are worn by the Chinese, 
arid the remains of blue cotton trowsers, of the fashion called moor- 
mans. A wooden anchor of one fluke, and three boats rudders of 
violet wood were also found ; but what puzzled me most was a 
collection of stones piled together in a line, resembling a low wall, 
with short lines running perpendicularly at the back, dividing the 
space behind into compartments. In each of these were the remains 
of a charcoal fire, and all the wood near at hand, had been cut down. 
Mr. Brown saw on another island a similar construction, with not 

Digitized by 






V N 





Digitized by 


Digitized by 


Peltew's Group.} TERRA AUSTRALIA ft* 

less than thirty-six partitions, over which was laid a rude piece of 
frame work ; and the neighbouring mangroves, to the extent of an 
acre and a half, had been cut down. It was evident that these 
people were Asiatics, but of what particular nation, or what their 
business here, could not be ascertained ; I suspected them, however, 
to be Chinese, and that the nutmegs might possibly be their object. 
From the traces amongst Wellesley's Islands, they had been con- 
jectured to be shipwrecked people; but that opinion did not now 
appear to be correct. 

The barometer stood here from 29,96 to 39,62 inches, being 
highest with the winds at north-east, and lowest with those from the 
southward j in the heavy squalls of wind, rain, thunder, and light- 
ning from the north-west, the mercury stood at a medium elevation. 
On board the ship, the average standard of the thermometer was 
nearly 85 . On shore it was hotter, yet the musketoes were not 
very troublesome ; but the common black flies, from their extraor- 
dinary numbers and their impudence, were scarcely less annoying 
than musketoes ; they get into the mouth and nose, and settle upon the 
face or any other part of the body, with as much unconcern as they 
would alight on a gum tree ; nor are they driven away easily. This: 
was the case on shore, and on board the ship whilst lying at anchor, 
and for a day or two afterwards ; but the society of man wrought a 
change in the manners even of these little animals. They soon be- 
came more cautious, went off when a hand was lifted up, and in 
three or four days after quitting the land, behaved themselves 
orderly, like other flies ; and though still numerous on board, they 
gave little iholestatron. Dampier found these insects equally trouble- 
some on the North-west Coast ; for he says (Vol. I. p. 464), speak* 
ing of the natives, " Their eye-lids are always half closed, to keep 
the flies out of their eyes ; they being so troublesome here, that no- 
fanning will keep them from coming to one's face ; and without the 
assistance of both hands to keep them off, they will creep into one's 
nostrils, and mouth too, if the lips are not shut very close." 


Digitized by 


174 A VOYAGE TO [Jtor* Cbo* 

iso2, Sir JEdward Pejlew's Group, as; will be seen by a reference to the 

December. , .,11 * 

4>la^, affords numerous anchorages against both the south-east and 
.north-fl^est monsoon ; but unless it should be within the two small 
4sles near the south-west side of Vanderlin's Island, where the depth 
was not well ascertained, there is not a single harbour^ the different 
bays and coves being too shallow to admit a ship. Wood for 
fuel is easy to be procured; and water may be had in December, 
and probably as late as April or May, but I think not afterwards. 
The most accessible watering place we could find, was at the back 
x>f the mangroves near our principal anchorage, within the east 
~ point of North Island, where, with some trouble, our casks were 
iUlecji ; and at a beach there, left dry at low water, the seine was 
hauled with some success. At Vanderlin's Island there are many 
benches fit for the seine ; and indeed it seemed superior to the other 
jslauds as well for this, as for every other purpose, when a ship can 
he there; it is also the most frequented by the Indians, and may 
^probably have fixed inhabitants. 

The latitude of Observation Island, from two 

meridian altitudes tp the north and south, is 15 36' 46'' S. 
Longitude from six sets of distances of the sun 
east of the moon, given in Table IV. of 
Appendix No. 1, 137 & 42" ; but by the time 
keeppr No. 543 corrected, it is preferably 137 3 15 E. 
The rates of the time keepers were found from afternoon's 
*)titu4fis in an artificial horizon, between the 16th and 26th ; and 
(he .means, with their errors from mean Greenwich time, at noon 
Jtheire on the last day of observation, were as under : 

Eamshaw's No. 543, slow s k 29' .1 i",i7 and losing 14",93 per day 
520, - 4 11 37 ,59 - - 28 ,25 
This rpte of No. 543 is only o",i9 more than that found at Sweers' 
Island, and so far as the six sets of lunars may be relied on, the 
longitude by this time keeper was not far from the truth ; the letting 
down on the passage therefore did not seem to have produced any 

Digitized by 


Pettew's Group.] TERR& A^TrtA^ lit 

change ; but in No. 520, thtf rater is nrofetHatt 8 U gtt&tef, atld 1 th£' ift# 
longitude was getting i\' per day totf ltttrch tothtf darst, afswelFbte- 
fore as after it was let' down; TMe cDSSl' firortt Swefert 1 ' to Obser- 
vation Island is consequently MTdcWfi by No: £43; With 1 rite sthklV 
accelerating correction arising from the 0^,19* ittfcreaser of f&te ift* 
16,4 days. 

Variation of the theodolite, observed oh the east 
side of South* west Island, - a" 22/ east. 

In the bearings taken at different parts within the group, the vari- 
ation seemed to differ from 2° 30' to i # so'. The largest variations 
were on the east sides of the islands, and the smallest on the west 
sides ; seeming to show an attraction of the land upon the south 
end of the needle. On board the ship, when coasting along the east 
side of Vanderlin's Island, and the whole group lay to the west, the 
variation appeared from the bearings to be as much as 4* east. 

The best observation made on the tide, was on the *$&, during: 
my boat excursion to the south end of Vanderlin's Island. On that 
morning the moon passed over the meridian at sixteen minutes past 
ten, and the perpendicular movements of the tide were as follows. 
At seven o'clock, when I left the shore, the tide was falling ; on 
landing at nine it was stationary, and appeared to be low water ; at 
noon it rose fast, and at three was still rising, and continued so to 
do, but slowly, until seven in the evening. The tide then began to 
fall ; but after subsiding one foot, it rose again until ten o'clock , 
and had then attained its greatest height. Low water took place 
therefore about an hour before, and high water at eleven hours 
and a quarter after the moon passed the meridian : the rise appeared 
to be from four to seven feet. At Wellesley's Islands high 
water had taken place an hour and a half earlier, which seems 
extroardiftary, if, as it necesarily must, the flood come from the 
northward. I think it very probable, that the tide in both places 
will follow what was observed in King George's Sound on the 
South Coast; where high water, after becoming gradually later 

Digitized by 


176 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

tso2. till midnight, happened on the following day before seven in the 

December. . i i_ i i_ <* 

evening, and then later as before. 

The break of three hours in the tide here, is somewhat remarka- ' 
ble : it was not observed amongst Wellesley's Islands, where the tide 
ran twelve hours each way ; but was found to increase as we pro- 
ceeded west and northward until it became six hours, and the tides 
assumed the usual course. 

Digitized by 




Departure from Sir Edward Pellew 9 s Group. Coast from thence west- 
ward. Cape Maria found to be an island. Limmen's Bight. Coast 
northward to Cape Barrow : landing on it. Circumnavigation of 
Groote Eylandt. Specimens of native art at Chasm Island. Anchorage 
in North-west Bay, Groote Eylandt; with remarks and nautical 
observations. Blue-mud Bay. Skirmish with the natives. Cape 
Shield. Mount Grindall. Coast to Caledon Bay. Occurrences in 
that bay, with remarks on the country and inhabitants. Astrono- 
mical and nautical observations. 

At daylight of Dec. »7, we got under way from Pellew's Group ; isos. 
and passing between the small isles near Cape Pellew, stretched off Monday 27. 
to sea with a fresh breeze at W. N. W. At noon the cape bore (Atlas, 

PI. XIV.) 

S. 26 W. four leagues, and towards evening we weathered it, hav- 
ing 10 fathoms water at the distance of five miles ; the soundings 
afterwards diminished gradually to 4^ fathoms, at two miles from 
West Island, where the anchor was dropped on a muddy bottom, 
for the night. Next morning, the wind being still at north-west, we Tuesday *8. 
again stretched out to sea ; and at noon, when the latitude was 15 
24', Cape Pellew bore S. 6o* E. four leagues. We were then stand- 
ing south-westward ; and at three o'clock, West Isle bore from 
S. 74° E. to about South, the last extreme being hidden by an islet 
and rock distant two-and-half miles. The main coast was in sight 
to the south and westward, and we stood for it until six ; the ship was 
then tacked to the north-east, in 3 fathoms, the shore being hr ee 
miles off, and extending from behind West Island to N. 36? W. It 
vol. 11. A a 

Digitized by 


178 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

iso*. was low, mostly sandy, and covered with wood behind the beaches ; 

Tuefld^ss. and except that some places on the shore were rocky, it altogether 
resembled the more eastern parts of the gulph. At dusk, the anchor 
was let go in 6 fathoms, mud and shells. 

Wednes.39. A small reef was seen in the morning, two miles to the north- 

east of the ship, and about seven from the coast. We passed half 
a mile to windward of it, with %\ fathoms, and stretched off to sea 
until noon, with the usual north-western wind ; the latitude was then 
15* 7', longitude 135 40', and we tacked towards the land* which 
was not in sight from the mast head. At six in the evening it was 
distant two leagues, and the extremes bore S. »6 # E. to 74* W. , 
the first being the same part which had been set at N. 36 W., 
the evening before. At seven, we tacked from the shore in 
fathoms, and on the water deepening to 4, anchored on coarse 

Thuw. so. sandy ground. In working along the shore next day, we met with 
a shoal of sand and rocks, as far as three leagues off the land ; 
the outer part, upon which we had less than 2 j fathoms at noon, 
lying in 15° 13' south and 136 16' east. After getting clear of this 
danger, we stretched off until dusk ; and then anchored in 9 fathoms, 
grey sand, some back hill£ being visible in theS. W. by W., but no 
part of the low shore. 

Friday 31. We had the wind at S. in the morning, and stood off 

until noon, nine or ten leagues from the coast; two small lumps of 
land were then seen, bearing S. 53 and 58 W., and at the mast head 
they were perceived to join, and apparently to form an* island. On 
the wind veering to the south and eastward we steered for it, and 
before sunset got to an anchor in a small bay on its south side, in 4 
fathoms ; the extremes of the island bearing N. 8i # E. one mile and 
a half, to S. 83* W. three miles. The main land was visible three or 
four leagues to the southward, and a projecting part of the back 
hills, which at first made like a head land, bore S. 3* W. 

A similar error to that at the Capes Van Diemen and Vanderlin 
has been made here in the Dutch chart, this island being represented 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 179 

as a projection of the main land, and called Cape Maria. To the ^ 180 ?- 

r . r December. 

west of it is marked a large bay or bight, called Limmen's Bogt, Friday si, 
where the coast turns north-eastward to a projecting cape without 
name, which has a shoal, forty miles in length, running out from it ; 
and between this shoal and Cape Maria, is laid down a small island. 
In these particulars, the old chart was found to be correct as to the 
general matter of fact, but erroneous in the forms and positions. 

Fires were seen at night, upon the island ; and early in the isos. 
morning I landed with the botanical gentlemen, to examine the pro- satSrSy'i. 
ductions and take bearings. My attention was attracted by some- 
thing like a native's hut, which proved to be an ant hill composed of 
red earth, about eight feet high, and formed like a haycock ; the 
inhabitants were the same feeble race of insect as before seen at the 
Prince of Wales' Islands, and the least pressure was sufficient to 
crush them. From the highest hill on the south side of the island, 
I set the furthest visible extremity of the main land to the eastward, 
near which is a low islet, at S. 21 50' E.; from thence it extended 
past the projecting part of the hills toN. 80° W., where it was lost 
in Limmen's Bight ; but re-appearing 16 further north, it was dis- » 
tinguishable to N. 33* W. 

The length of the island is about seven miles, N. E. and S. W., 
by a variable breadth from one to four miles ; and its northern ex- 
tremity, to which I continue the name of Cape Maria, lies in 14 50' 
south, and 135 53^' east. A slaty rock seemed to form its basis ; 
the surface is hilly, well covered with wood, and grass grows up 
from amongst the loose stones ; and notwithstanding its barren soil, 
the appearance from the ship was green and pleasant. That men 
were upon the island was shewn by the fires, and it was corrobor- 
ated by the fresh prints of feet upon the sand ; but they eluded our 
search, and we did not find either canoes or habitations. 

On returning to the ship at nine o'clock, we stretched south- 
ward for the main coast, with the wind at ^est. When within five 
or six miles, the water shoaled to 3j fathoms; and the ship being 

Digitized by 


ISO A VOYAGE TO [Afcr th Com. 

1803. found to drift to leeward with the tide, a stream anchor was dropped. 
Satawdyu There seemed to be two tides here in the day, setting nearly east 
and west, but the rise and fall were so imperceptible by the lead, 
that it could not be known which was the flood. 

The west wind died away at noon, and being succeeded by a 
sea breeze from the north-eastward, we steered for Limmen's 
Bight so long as it lasted ; and then anchored in 4 fathoms, blue 
mud, with the island of Cape Maria bearing S. $6° to 86° E., ten 
or twelve miles. The main land was eight or nine miles off, and 
visible all round the Bight and as far as N. 6* W. ; it was low and 
woody, and an extensive shelving flat seemed to render it inaccessible 
to a ship. 

At seven in the evening, the land wind came off in a strong 
squall, with thunder, lightning, and rain ; afterwards the weather 
6unday 2. cleared ; and at day light we followed the line of the coast to the 
northward. I wished to get as near to it as possible ; but the water 
shoaling to «-j fathoms when six or seven miles off, we ran out east, 
till it deepened to 4, and then steered north-eastward, parallel to the 
line of the shoal. A low rock came in sight to seaward, which I 
took to be the small island laid down to the north-east of Cape 
Maria, but it lies nearly north from it. At nine o'clock, when the 
main land was distant seven miles and the 4epth 6 fathoms, 

The low rock, distant 4 miles, bore S. 65^ E. 

Station hill near C. Maria, dist. 6 leagues, - S. 7^- E. 

A sloping part of the main, higher than the rest, N. 50 W. 

Extreme from the mast head, - North. 

Our latitude at noon was 14 atf' 99'', and longitude 135° 543-'; 
the main coast was seven miles off, and seen from the mast head as 
far as N. N. E. Three miles to the N. 8o° E. there were two dry 
sands, and shoal water extended from them to the north and south- 
ward, further than could be distinguished. We had already no more 
than g fathoms ; but a sea breeze having set in at E. by S., unfavour- 
ably for going without sicte of the sands, we kept on close to the 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 181 

wind, hoping to find a passage within them. The depth varied be- j l80S - 
tween 3 and 4 fathoms, till past five o'clock, when it dhhinished to Sundays. 
s~, the main coast being distant five or six miles, and the sands out 
of sight astern ; we then tacked, and stretched E. S. E. into 4 fathoms, 
and anchored at dusk on a bottom of gravel. An observation of the 
moon gave the latitude here 14 19'; and the variation from an am- 
plitude, with the head E. by S., was o # 43' east, or corrected to the 
meridian upon the principle often before mentioned, s # 44' east for 
the true variation. 

There is no doubt that the dry banks seen at noon, were riieant 
to be represented in the Dutch chart by the great shoal to the north- 
east of Cape Maria ; but their direction from the cap6 is there too 
far eastward; neither do they join to the main land, nor lie out front 
it more than one-quarter of the distance marked: several turtle 
were seen in the vicinity of the banks. The main coast in the north- 
ern part of Iimmen's Bight is not altogether so low as at the head ; 
but the shoal water extends equally far out, and even the southerri 
head of the gulph is not more inaccessible to ships. 

We had strong squalls of wind in the night, with rairi, thunder, 
and lightning, and were obliged to drop a second anchor; the wind, 
however, remained in the north-east, and at daylight we stood for Monday s. 
the edge of the shoal. At seven, tacked ship in 3 fathoms ; and a 
breeze coming off the land soon afterward, we steered along the 
shore until noon, with a good depth of water. Several pieces of dis- 
tant land, which seemed to be islands of greater elevation than usual, 
were then seen, from N. by E. to E. S. E.; the main coast was about 
five miles off, and the furthest part bore north from the mast head. 
Our latitude at this time was 14* 5', and longitude 136° 6' east. 

In the afternoon, the soundings became irregular between 4 
and 7 fathoms, and the whale boat was sent a-head; but a fresh 
wjnd setting in at N. E., the boat was called back, and in being 
veered astern, got filled with water, broke adrift, and the two men 
were thrown out. Another boat was lowfered down to save them, 

Digitized by 


182 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

i8os. and I ran the ship to leeward and came to an anchor. The whale boat 
fifcy^. was picked up, as also one of the men ; but the other, William Murray, 
captain of the fore top, being unable to swim, was unfortunately lost. 
The weather remained squally, and wind unsettled during the 
Tuesday 4. night In the morning our course was continued to the northward, 
leaving extensive land, which I supposed to be the Groote Eylandt 
of the old charts, six or eight leagues on the starbord hand. Before 
commencing the investigation of that island, I wished to trace the 
main coast further on, and if possible, give the botanists an oppor- 
tunity of examining its productions ; for it was upon the main that 
they usually made the most interesting discoveries, and only once, 
since entering the Gulph of Carpentaria, had we been able to land 
there. At seven o'clock we edged in for the coast ; and on coming 
into <j£ fathoms, dropped the anchor on a bottom of blue mud, within 
^ mile of the shore. No part of Groote Eylandt was in sight ; but 
an island of considerable extent and elevation, not noticed in the old 
chart, lay six or seven miles to the E. N. E. ; and I have called it 
Bickerton's Island, in compliment to admiral Sir Richard Bickerton. 
Between it and the main coast is an open space, from four to six or 
seven miles wide, through which, to all appearance from this side, a 
ship might safely pass. 

Whilst the botanical gentlemen landed abreast of the ship, I 
took the whale boat to a woody islet, five miles off, close to Bicker- 
ton's Island, the soundings across the opening in going to it, being 
from 3 to 7 fathoms. A meridian observation to the north and south, 
placed the islet in latitude 13^ 48' 30", and the points of the opening 
to the northward bore N. i8°E. and N. 2^°W.; this last was the 
furthest visible part of the main land ; and proving afterwards to be 
a projecting cape, I named it Cape Barrow, after John Barrow, Esq., 
author of the interesting travels at the Cape of Good Hope. The 
islet is about half a mile long, and though many bushes and some 
trees grew upon it, is little more than a bed of sand. There were 
holes in the beach, made by turtle ; and besides other proofs of the 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALJS. 183 

islet being sometimes visited by the Indians, I found four human ***• 
skulls lying at the back of the shore. TueX7*' 

From the woody islet I crossed over to the main land near the 

ship, and took another set of bearings for the survey. Upon the 

shore were pieces of bamboo, and other traces of the same foreign 

people of whom mention has frequently been made; and three small 

huts were found, so entirely covered with grass that no opening was 

left; but they were empty, and nothing was buried underneath. On 

the borders of a small fresh lake the botanists reaped a harvest of 

new plants, without molestation ; indeed no natives were seen any 

where; but several skeletons were found, standing upright in the 

hollow stumps of trees ; and the skulls and bones being smeared or 

painted, partly red and partly white, made a very strange appearance. 

Some kanguroos were perceived at a distance ; and judging by their 

foot-marks on the sand, they were rather numerous. The country 

near the sea side is stony and barren ; further back, it rises gently 

to a small elevation, and seemed to be moderately well covered with 

grass and wood. 

In the morning of the 5th we got under way, and steered Wedneg. s. 
eastward for GrooteEylandt, which I now intended to circumnavigate. 
In passing the south side of Bickerton's Island, we observed in it a 
deep bight or bay which would afford shelter in the north-west mon- 
soon, if there be depth sufficient for a ship; and the hills at the back 
being high and woody, there was a probability of its receiving a 
stream of fresh water. The country round the entrance of the bight, 
had the appearance of being sandy and sterile. 

Between the nearest parts of Groote and Bickerton's Islands 
is a space of eight miles, which seemed to offer a perfectly safe pas- 
sage, with soundings, if I may judge from what we had in crossing 
the south side, between 13 and 17 fathoms ; nor can the rather high 
and woody isle, which lies almost exactly in the middle of the open- 
ing, be considered as presenting any obstacle. This isle, from its 
Jopal position, would seem to be the central one of three laid down - 

Digitized by 


W4 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

i8os; i# the Dutch chart between Groote Eylandt and the main ; but the 
W&^bi. latitude corresponds with the southernmost. I call it Connexion 
Island; because my survey round Groote Eylandt was connected by 
its means, and made in a great measure independent of the time 
keepers. The centre of Connexion Island, from observations at noon 
to the north and south, lies in 13 50^ south; and the longitude, 
deduced at three o'clock when the extremes bore N. 20 W. to 1 1° E. 
four miles, would be 136 17' from the best time keeper ; but from 
the survey and lunar observations, 136 24^' east should be more 

Our distance from the west side of Groote Eylandt at four 
o'clock, was not quite three miles, and we then bore away south- 
ward along the shore, in 8 to 6 fathoms water. This depth diminished 
gradually to 4 fathoms, and suddenly from that to 2 £ ; on which we 
steered off into 7, and then resumed our southern course. Soon 
after sunset, 

Bfckerton's Islapd, south point, bore - N. 53 W. 

Connexion I., the west extreme, - • N. 11 W. 

Qroote Eylandt, north-west extreme, - N. 16 E. 

— central hill, - - N. 87 E. 

— — ; " a low projection, dist. 4 or 5 miles, S. 42 E. 

In half an hour, the anchor was dropped in 11 fathoms, muddy 

At the north-west end of Groote Eylandt is a bluff head, the 
termination that way of a range of woody hills from the interior, of 
which the highest is what was set under the name of Central Hill. 
On the west side of the island these hills do not come close to the 
water side, but leave a space of increasing breadth to the southward, 
where the land is low, sandy, and sterile; and even the hills, though 
mostly covered with wood, had little of fertility in their appearance: 
the shore is partly rock, and in part sandy beach. 
Thuw. c. We had the wind light and variable in the morning, and pro- 

ceeded to the southward very slowly. The shore trended S. S. E., 

Digitized by 


Oroote Eylandt.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 18* 

for some time; and then turning westward to the south-west cape, it T l80S * 

° r 7 January. 

formed a bight in the low land three or four, miles back, in which Thursday 6. 
there seemed to be much shoal water. There is a sandy hill upon 
the south-west cape, and a rock lies close to it ; and at three or four 
miles off the soundings were exceedingly irregular, jumping from 
7 to 5^ and 4 to n fathoms, on a rocky bottom. This irregularity, 
and the meeting of two tides, one from the north and another from 
the east, caused great ripplings in the water; and with the light 
winds, retarded our progress round the cape. The extreme south- 
west point lies in latitude 14° 15* south, and from six sets of lunar 
distances with stars east and west, the longitude would be 136* 17' 
east; but according to the survey, 136* 25' is the better situation. 
An amplitude at sunset gave the variation i° 9', with the ship's head 
S. E., or corrected to the meridian, s* 36' east. We anchored at dusk* 
in 13 fathoms, muddy bottom, five or six miles to the south of the. 

On the 7th and 8th, the winds hung between S. E. and N. N. E. ; Saturday a*, 
and the direction of the south side of Groote Eylandt being nearly 
east, it took us those two days and part of a third, to make the 
examination, though the extent be little more than twelve leagues. 
The land here is more sandy than on the west side, and the trees 
upon the hills are more thinly scattered and present a less agreeable 
foliage. No islands are laid down near the south side in the Dutch 
chart ; but I counted eight scattered along it, of which the eastern* 
most and largest is more than two miles long; and besides these, 
there are several rocks. The positions of these rocks and islets, 
with our courses and soundings amongst them, will be best seen in 
the chart. 

In the afternoon of the 9th, we passed round the south-east Sundays 
rocky point of Groote Eylandt, which lies in 14^ 17' south, and 
137 fc£' east. The shore then trended northward, to a small cluster 
of rocks and islets three miles distant; and two miles further was 
another islet, behind which we anchored in 12 fathoms, coarse sand, . 
vol. 11. B b 

Digitized by 


18$ A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

isos. j n a sandy bight of the great island ; but the bight being exposed to 
Sunday 9. south-east winds, and containing much foul ground, the anchorage 

was far from being good. 
Monday io. In the morning, we steered out on the north side of the islet, 

between it and a low point two miles off, with a boat a-head ; our 
soundings being 9, 6, 4, ai, 5, 8, and soon afterward 23 fathoms. 
The low point, which has several rocks near it, lies seven or eight 
miles northward from the south-east extremity of Groote Eylandt ; 
from thence the shore trends westward about four leagues, and forms 
a large bight, mostly bounded by a sandy beach ; but in the middle 
of it is a point with mahy rocks. On the west side of the bight, two 
or three miles back, are the same woody hills which seem to occupy 
all the middle of the island ; and on this side they terminate to the 
north-east in a bluff. The depth of water at noon was 19 fathoms, 
and our situation and principal bearings were as under. 

Latitude, observed to the north and south, - 14 5' 31" 
Longitude by time keeper and survey, - 137 3 
Groote Eylandt, low eastern point, dist. 4 miles, S. 1 W. 
woody hills, the north-east bluff, N. 64 W. 
■ furthest visible extreme, - N. 6 W. 

We were then steering across the bight before a south-east 
wind ; but the depth of water becoming less, and the wind more 
dead on the shore, we hauled up N. by E. for the furthest land in 
sight. At three o'clock, a small opening was seen under the north-east 
bluff, but our distance of three leagues was too great to distinguish 
it accurately. Towards evening, when three miles from the shore, 
the sounding jumped from 9 to 4 fathoms, and we tacked to the 
south-east ; and the night promising to be fine, anchored at dusk in 
19 fathoms, mud and sand, with the north-east point of Groote 
(Atlas, Eylandt bearing N. 33* W.> about seven miles ; further out lay two 
small islands^ and a hill upon the outermost was set at N. io° W. 
The latitude of this anchorage was ascertained, from altitudes of two 
stars and the moon, to be 13*53!' south; and an amplitude with the 

Digitized by 


Oroote EylandQ TERRA AUSTRALIA 187 

ship's head N. E. by N., gave variation s # 5/, or 4* 4' eaat, corrected 18c ®* 
to the meridian. 

We had the wind at N. W. in the morning, and steered close Tuesday 11. 
to it on the larbord tack, until noon ; when the hill on the outer 
north-east island, bore S. 89^* W., nine or ten miles. The latitude 
of the hill is 13 38^, and from six sets of distances of stars east and 
west of the moon, its longitude would be 136 36*; but from the 
survey and more numerous observations, it is 137* o£' east.* After a 
calm the sea breeze came in, and our course was directed for the 
north-east point of Groote Eylandt ; at sunset we approached a rodcy 
islet three or four miles from the point, and anchored under it in 6£ 
fathoms, sandy ground, with the point bearing S. 5 E., and the fuiv 
thest visible part, very low and sandy, S. 6$° W. five or six miles. 
On the other side, the north-east islands extended from N. 3* E* 
to 39 W., with many small rocks scattered along them ; the nearest 
pf which, a split rock, was distant a short mile. 

In the morning we steered close to a N. N. W. wind, for the Wednes. if. 
low sandy point, where the shore was found to trend southward ; and 
five or six miles to the west there was other land, moderately high and 
in some places cliffy, which took nearly a parallel direction ; and the 
bight between them ran so far up towards the north-east bluff of 
the woody hills, that a junction with the small opening seen on the 
outside appeared to be probable. A shelving spit extended out from 
the low point, and on opening the bight our soundings decreased 
from 6 to 9.\ fathoms, which made it necessary to tack ; and the 
wind being adverse to passing within the north-east islands, if indeed 
there be water enough for a ship, which seemed doubtful, we steered 
out by the way we had come in. 

Having little wind, the isles were not passed till late in the 

♦ The apparent error of 24*' in the first longitude, is greater than should exist in the 
mean result of six sets of distances. There is an interval of three days in the observation! 
of the moon at Greenwich with which these distances were compared; and it seems pro- 
bable that a great part of the error might arise from that cause. 

Digitized by 


188 A VOYAGE TO INorih CoaM. 

^isos. evening, and from the same cause not much progress was made to 
Thurs. is. the westward next day ; but the land was better distinguished than 
before, and many straggling rocks and two islets were seen to lie 
Friday 14. off the north end of Groote Eylandt. In the morning of the 14th 
we weathered all these, and on the wind dying away, anchored in 
liy fathoms, blue mud; the outer North-point Islet, which lies in 
13 37' south and 136* 45' east, then bore E. 3 S. five miles, and the 
furthest extreme of a higher cliffy island, S. 38 W. three miles. 

I went in a boat to this last island with the botanical gentle- 
men, intending to take bearings from the uppermost cliffs ; but the 
many deep chasms by which the upper parts are intersected, made 
it impossible to reach the top in the short time we had to spare, and 
a few bearings from the eastern low point were all that could be ob- 
tained. This was called Chasm Island; it lies one mile and a half from 
a low point of Groote Eylandt, where the shore trends southward 
and seemed to form a bay, into which I proposed to conduct the ship. 
We found upon Chasm Island a fruit which proved to be a new 
species of eugenia, of the size of an apple, whose acidity of taste was 
agreeable; there were also many large bushes covered with nutmegs, 
similar to those seen at Cape Vanderlin; and in some of the chasms 
the ground was covered with this fruit, without our being able, for 
some time, to know whence it came. Several trees shot up in these 
chasms, thirty or forty feet high, and on considering them attentively, 
these were found to be the trees whence the nutmegs had fallen ; 
thus what was a spreading bush above, became, from the necessity 
of air and light, a tall, slender tree, and showed the admirable power 
in nature to accommodate itself to local circumstances. The fruit was 
small, and not of an agreeable flavour ; nor is it probable that it can 
at all come in competition with the nutmeg of the Molucca Islands : 
it is the Myristica insipida of Brown's Prodrom. Nov. Holl. p. 400. 

In the steep sides of the chasms were deep holes or caverns, 
undermining the cliffs ; upon the walls of which I found rude draw- 
ings, made with charcoal and something like red paint upon the 

Digitized by 


Oroote Eylandt.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 189 

white ground of the rock. These drawings represented porpoises, lQ03 - 
turtle, kanguroos, and a human hand ; and Mr. Westall, who went Friday u. 
afterwards to see them, found the representation of a kanguroo, 
with a file of thirty-two persons following after it. The third per- 
son of the band was twice the height of the others, and held in his 
hand something resembling the whaddie, or wooden sword of the 
natives of Port Jackson ; and was probably intended to~ represent 
a chief. They could not, as with us, indicate superiority by clothing 
or ornament, since they wear none of any kind ; and therefore, with 
the addition of a weapon, similar to the ancients, they seem to have 
made superiority of person the principal emblem of superior power, 
of which, indeed, power is usually a consequence in the very early 
stages of society. 

A sea breeze had sprung up from the eastward, and the ship 
-was under way when we returned on board at three in the afternoon. 
At five we hauled round Chasm Island with is fathoms water, 
which diminished gradually as we proceeded up the bay, to 4^, 
where the anchor was dropped on a muddy bottom ; the south-west 
end of Chasm Island then bore N. 16 E., three or four miles, and the 
cliffy end of a smaller isle on the west side of the entrance, N. 29 W. 
two miles and a half; and except between these two bearings, we were 
sheltered from all winds. The situation of this bay in Groote Eylandt, 
led me to give it the name of North-west Bay. It is formed on the 
east and south by that island ; and on the west by a separate piece 
of land, five or six miles long, which, in honour of the noble pos- 
sessor of Burley Park, in the county of Rutland, I named Winchilsea 
Island; and a small isle of greater elevation, lying a short mile to 
the east of the ship, was called Finch's Island. 

Early next morning the botanists landed on Groote Eylandt, Saturday u. 
and I went to Finch's Island with the second lieutenant, to take 
bearings and astronomical observations. From the western head, I 
saw that the bay extended six or eight miles above the ship, to the 
southward, and that the southern outlet, beyond Winchilsea Island, 

Digitized by 


190 A VOYAGE TO [JVorfA Coa$t 

i8os. was about one mile wide ; but the whole seemed to be too shallow 


Saturday is. for any thing larger than boats. Amongst the bearings taken from 
this station, those most essential to the survey were, 

Groote Eylandt, the woody north-west bluff, S. $6* ffi W. 

A distant wedge-shaped rock, the N. E. bluff, N. 59 55 W. 

Chasm I., the steep west end, - N. 351 E. 

And from another station, half a mile to the E. S. E., I set 

Groote Eylandt, the central hill, at - S. 14 27' E. 
This bearing and that of the north-west bluff, formed connecting 
links in the chain of longitude round the island. 
jSunday 16. Next day the botanists landed upon Winchilsea Island, and 

further astronomical observations were taken upon that of Finch ; 
where also a part of the ship's company went to divert themselves, 
* and to wash their linen ; and in the evening, we prepared to quit 

North-west Bay. 

A close-grained sand stone, nearly resembling that of Pellew's 
Group, seems to form the basis of Groote and the neighbouring 
islands ; we found also coral, iron-stone, and quartz. In many places, 
quartz in almost a crystallised state was sprinkled in grains through 
the sand stone, and in others, the sand stone itself was partly vitri- 
fied. Wherever we landed, the surface was so entirely composed 
of stone and sand, that the idea of any kind of cultivation could in 
no wise be assimilated with it ; the hills at a little distance from the 
water side were, however, well covered with wood, and it is not im- 
probable, that there may be vallies in the central parts of Groote 
Eylandt possessing some degree of fertility. The central hill, which 
is six or eight hundred feet in elevation, appeared to be not so 
much as three leagues from the head of North-west Bay, and I 
was desirous to have made an excursion to the top, to see the in- 
terior of the island ; but the state of the ship being such as to press 
us forward with all practicable haste, it was not attempted ; nor did 
I stop to examine particularly the head of the bay, since it appeared 
to be shallow, and of little interest to navigation. 

Digitized by 


Groote Eylandt,] TERRA AUSTRAUS. 191 

The wood on Groote Eylandt was mostly composed of dif- T 1803# 

J j r January. 

ferent species of eucalyptus ; the trees were small, and might (Jo for fire 
wood and very common purposes, but did not seem calculated for 
any superior use. Chasm Island was the sole place where the nut- 
meg was found, though in general, the gleanings of the botanists were 
tolerably fortunate. None of the native inhabitants were seen, nor 
any kanguroos or other quadrupeds ; and birds seemed to be scarce. 
Small quantities of water, deposited in holes of the rocks by the late 
rains, were useful to the seamen for washing their clothes ; but we 
did not find any from which a ship could be supplied, nor were there 
any beaches convenient for hauling the seine. 

The latitude of Finch's Island, from a meridian 

observation to the north and south, is - - 14° 48' 31'' S. 
Longitude from six sets of distances of the sun 

east of the moon, taken by myself, 136 38' 

47", and from twelve sets by lieutenant 

Flinders ( see Table V. of Appendix No, 1 ), 

136 23' 38'' ; but there being no observations 

of the moon at Greenwich within two or 

three days, the longitude from survey and 

the position of Caledon Bay afterwards fixed, 

is preferred, and is - 136 36 53 E* 

Dip of the south end of the needle, - - 39 22 
Variation of the theodolite, - - 3 6 east. 

The variations of the surveying coitopass, from amplitudes taken 
near different parts of Groote Eylandt during the circumnavigation, 
were these ; — 

Near the main, opposite the 8. W. Pt.,head E,'by &, o° 43/ cor. «° 44' E. 
Near the south-west point, - S.E.,1 9, 2 36 

Off the east side, - N. E.byN.^a 57, 4 4, 

Near the north-east isles, - - N. W., 3 33, 1 58 
Off the north end, - - S. W.,5 51* 4 14 
Whether the small variation near the north-east isles arose from any 

Digitized by 


192 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast 

Janu^y. P 601 *^ 1 " attraction, or from some oversight in taking the amplitude, 
I cannot determine ; if from the latter, it would appear that the 
variation is a degree and a half less on the soutft-west, than on the 
east and north sides of Groote Eylandt. 

Scarcely any run of tide was perceptible in North-west Bay, 
nor did the rise appear to exceed four or five feet at any part of the 
island, though it runs with some strength off the projecting points. 
The irregularity in different places was such, that the time of high 
water could not be ascertained ; but I think there is only one full 
tide in the day, and that the flood comes from the northward. 
Monday ir. Early on the 17th we worked out of the bay, and stretched 

off to sea with a W. N. W. wind ; at noon the latitude was 13 2/ 
10", and the furthest extreme of Chasm Island bore S. 26 W. 
After a calm in the afternoon, the sea breeze came in, and we 
steered south-westward till nine o'clock ; when a bower anchor was 
let go in 14 fathoms, two or three miles from the north end of Win- 
Tuesday is. chilsea Island. In the morning we lay up south-west, on the star- 
bord tack, and weathered the island, leaving a rock one mile and a 
half on the other side. I wished, by a good bearing of Connexion 
Island, to join the survey completely round Groote Eylandt ; and at 
nine o'clock it was set at S. 27^° to 47 W., two leagues. The 
wind then came a-head, and we tacked towards two small isles, 
where the anchor was dropped at ten, one mile and a half from 
their south side, in 16 fathoms, sand and shells. Our latitude here 
was 13° 43' 42" south, and the east side of Connexion Island bore 
S. 9j° W. six or seven miles; the difference of longitude from our 
situation on the 5th at three p. m., was hence ascertained to be 
i # 55" east, not differing 5" from what was given by No. 543, but 
No. 520 showed 6±' too much ; the differences of longitude by the 
former tinre keeper alone have therefore been used round Groote 

I went immediately, with the botanical gentlemen, to the 
northern and largest of the two sandy isles ; and after observing 

Digitized by 



Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 193 

the latitude 13 42' 17" on the south-west point, ascended the highest isos. 
hillock, which, from the clump of trees upon it, was called Pandanus Tuesday is. 
Hill. Some of the trees being cut down, I had a tolerably extensive 
view of points and islands before passed ; and saw more to the 
north-west vard, behind Wedge Rock, all of which the Dutch chart 
represents as parts of the main land. One of these I have called 
Burntys Island, in compliment to captain James Burney of the navy, 
and another Nicol's Island, after His Majesty's bookseller, the pub- 
lisher of this work. Beyond these was a more extensive land, which 
also proved to be an island ; and its form having some resemblance 
to the whaddie or woodah, or wooden sword used by the natives of 
Port Jackson, it was named Isle Woodah. A low sandy island, lying 
four or five miles N. by. E. from my station, seems to be the north- 
ernmost of the three isles laid down between Groote Eylandt and 
the main ; but it is placed, as are also the neighbouring lands, half 
a degree too far north ; Connexion Island, taking it to be the south- 
ernmost of the three, is well fixed in latitude. 

Amongst the many bearings taken at the top of Pandanus 
Hill, those which follow were the most important to the survey. 

North-point Islet, outer extreme - N. 73° 15' E. 

Chasm Island, - - - N. 74 15' to N. 78 25 E. 

Groote Eylandt, central hill, - S. 44 30 E. 

' ■ - , north-west extreme, S. 9 o E. 

The ship distant 1^ miles, - S. 7 45 E. 

Connexion Island, - - % - S. 8 o to S. 2* 30 W. 

Bickerton's Island, - S. 43 40 to N. 75 45 W. 

Isle Woodah, - - N. 60 30 toN. 38 15 W. 

Wedge Rock, steep north-east end, N. 30 45 W. 

Nicol's I., steep east end, - N. 26 5 W. 

There was very little wood upon the two sandy isles, nor did 

they furnish any thing new to the botanists ; but they were partly 

covered with long grass amongst which harboured several bustards, 

and I called them Bustard Isles. The basis of the largest is nearly 

vol. 11. C c 

Digitized by 


194 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

1803. the same mixture of sand-stone and quartz, as at North-west Bay ; 


Tuesday 18. broken coral and sand formed the beaches; and some fresh turtle 
tracks being there perceived, and the appearance of the weather 
being unfavourable, it induced' me to remain at anchor all night ; 
but only one turtle was procured. 
Wednes. 19. In the morning we had a north-east wind, and after passing 

round a shoal which runs one or two miles From the south-west end 
of the Bustard Isles, hauled up to weather Bickerton's Island ; but 
owing to a tide setting to leeward it was not accomplished before 
two in the afternoon. Soon after three we got to anchor one mile 
from the south side of Burney's Island, in 4^ fathoms, mud and 
shells ; and I went on sliore with the botanists. 

This island is moderately high, rocky, and barren, yet thickly 
covered with the eucalyptus and casuarina. From the highest rock 
on the south-east side, I took bearings of the objects in sight ; and 
amongst them set 

Wedge Rock, the north extreme, at - N. 83° 50' E. 

Chasm Island, north extreme, - S. 79 55 E, 

Pandanus Hill, the last station, - - S. 53 5 E. 

I afterwards got through the wood, intending to set the objects 

lying to the north and westward; but no clear place could be 

found for placing the theodolite. A small bay was observed on the 

north-west side of the island, which might be convenient for boats ; 

and from the steep declivity of the land round it, there seemed a 

probability that fresh water mrght be procured at this season. The 

stone of this island is the same as that of the Bustard Isles ; and the 

Indians had visited both. A set of azimuths, observed at the same 

station whence the bearings were taken, gave variation 2 50' east ; 

but on board the ship, with the head N. E. by E., Mr. Flinders 

observed o° 23' east, with three compasses, which would be s° o' 

corrected ; whence it should seem, that the stone of the island had 

some attraction on the south end of the needle. 

Thufsday2o, In the morning, we steered S. W. to take up the survey of th« 

Digitized by 


Blue-mud Bay.'] TERRA ATJSTRALIS. 186 

main coast at Cape Barrow, between which and Isle Woodah was Z 808 * 


an opening where no land was visible; but meeting with shoal water, Thursday**. 

and the wind being' light, a stream anchor was dropped until the 

boat had time to sound. On her return, we steered for the north 

side of the opening, with a depth which increased From 4 fathoms 

to 17 off the south end of Woodah. A higher island, two or three 

miles long, then showed itself to the N. N. W. ; and on the watej 

shoaling to 3^- fathoms, the anchor was dropped at four in the after* 

noon, one mile and a half from its south side, on a bottom of blue 

mud. The main land was in sight to the westward, forming a large 

bay with Isle Woodah, and Bickerton's Island covered the entrance* 

so that the ship was in complete shelter. 

On landing with the botanical gentlemen, I ascended a hum- 
mock at the east end of the island, where alone the view was not 
impeded by wood. Many of my former fixed points were visible 
from thence, and the main land was traced round to the northward, 
to a hill named Mount Grindall, near which was another round hill 
upon an island ; and behind them the main extended eastward, 
nearly as far as over the middle of Isle Woodah. Amongst the 
numerous bearings taken from this eastern hummock, the following 
six were most essential to the survey. 

Chasm Island, the centre, - - S. 67 46' E. 

Wedge Rock, steep north-east end, S. $g 47 E. 

Cape Barrow v the eastern extreme, S. 6 50 W. 

Mount Grindall, - - - N. 13 16 W. 

Round-hill Island, the top, - N. 8 5 W. 

Extreme of the main, over Woodah, N. 55 90 E. 
A party of men was sent to cut wood on the following morning, p,^ « # 
and another to haul the seine ; the botanists also landed, and I went 
to observe the latitude and take bearings from the west end of the 
island ; every person was armed, for marks of feet had been per- 
ceived, so newly imprinted on the sand, that we expected to meet with 
Indians. After accomplishing my objects, I walked with a small party 

Digitized by 


196 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

i8os. round the north-west end of the island ; and then returned over the 

January. # 7 

Friday si. high land, through a most fatiguing brush wood, towards the wooders 
and the boat. On clearing the wood, four or five Indians were seen 
on a hill, half a mile to the left, and some of the wooding party ad- 
vancing towards them. The sight of us seemed to give the natives 
an apprehension of being surrounded, for they immediately ran ; but 
pur proceeding quietly down to the boat, which I did in the hope 
that our people might bring on an interview, appeared to satisfy them. 
The scientific gentlemen accompanied me on board to dinner; and I 
learned from Mr. Westall,that whilst he was taking a sketch at the 
east end of the island, a canoe, with six men in it, came over from 
Woodah. He took little notice of them until, finding they saw him 
and landed not far off, he thought it prudent to retreat with his 
servant to the wooding party. The natives followed pretty smartly 
after him ; and when they appeared on the brow of the hill, Mr. 
White wood, the master's mate, and some of his wooders went to 
meet them in a friendly manner. This was at the time that the ap- 
pearance of my party caused them to run ; but when we left the shore 
they had stopped, and our people were walking gently up the hill. 

The natives had spears, but from the smallness of their num- 
ber, and our men being armed, I did not apprehend any danger; we 
had, however, scarcely reached the ship, when the report of muskets 
was heard ; and the people were making signals and carrying some 
one down to the boat, as if wounded or killed. I immediately des- 
patched two armed boats to their assistance, under the direction of 
the master ; with orders, if he met with the natives, to be friendly and 
give them presents, and by no means to pursue them into the wood. 
I suspected, indeed, that our people must have been the aggressors ; 
but told the master, if the Indians had made a wanton attack, to bring 
off their canoe by way of punishment ; intending myself to take such 
jsteps on the following day, as might be found expedient. 

At five o'clock Mr. Whitewood was brought on board, with 
four spear wounds in his body. It appeared that the natives, in wait- 

Digitized by 


Bkie-mud Bay.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 19T 

ing to receive our men, kept their spears ready, as ours had their j 1803 - 
muskets. Mr. Whitewood, who was foremost, put out his hand to Friday 2*. : 
receive a spear which he supposed was offered; But the Indian, think- 
ing perhaps that an attempt was made to take his arms, ran the spear 
into the breast of his supposed enemy. The officer snapped his fire- 
lock, but it missed, and he retreated to his men ; and the Indians, 
encouraged by this, threw several spears after him, three of which 
took effect. Our people attempted to fire, and after some tinie two 
muskets went off, and the Indians fled; but not without taking away 
a hat which had been dropped. Thomas Morgan, a marine, having 
been some time exposed bare-headed to the sun, was struck with a 
cvup-de-soleil; he was brought on board with Mr. Whitewood, and 
died in a state of frenzy, the same night. 

So soon as the master had learned what had happened, he went 
round in the whale boat to the east end of the island, to secure the 
canoe ; and forgetting the orders I had given him, sent Mr. Lacy 
with the wooders overland, to intercept the natives on that side. 
Their searches were for some time fruitless ; but in the dusk of the 
<evening three Indians were seen by the wooders, and before they 
could be intercepted had pushed off in the canoe. A sharp fire was 
commenced after them ; and before they got out of reach, one 
fell and the others leaped out and dived away. A seaman who gave 
himself the credit of having shot the native, swam off to the canoe, 
and found him lying dead at the bottom, with a straw hat on his head 
which he recognised to be his own. Whilst displaying this in 
triumph, he upset the ticklish vessel, and the body sunk ; but the 
canoe was towjed to the shore, and the master returned with it at 
nine o'clock. 

I was much concerned at what had happened, and greatly dis-* 
pleased with the master for having acted so contrary to my orders ; 
but the mischief being unfortunately done, a boat was sent in the 
morning to search for the dead body, the painter being desirous of Saturday %%. 
it to make a drawing, and the naturalist and surgeon for anatomical 

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108 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

j^T*' purposes. The corpse was found lying at the water's edge, not 
Saturdays, lengthwise, as a body washed up, but with the head on shore and 
the feet touching the surf. The arms were crossed under the head, 
with the face downward, in the posture of a man who was just able 
to crawl out of the water and die ; and I very much apprehend this^ 
to have been one of the two natives who had leaped out of the canoe, 
and were thought to have escaped. He was of the middle size, rather 
slender, had a prominent chest, small legs, and similar features to 
the inhabitants of other parts of this country ; and he appeared to have 
been circumcised ! A musket ball had passed through the shoulder 
blade, from behind; and penetrating upwards, had lodged in the neck. 

The canoe was of bark, but not of one piece, as at Port Jackson ; 
it consisted of two pieces, sewed together lengthwise, with the seam 
on one side; the two ends were also sewed up, and made tight with 
gum. Along each gunwale was lashed a small pole ; and these 
were spanned together in five places, with creeping vine, to preserve 
the shape, and to strengthen the canoe. Its length was thirteen and 
a half, and the breadth two and a half feet ; and it seemed capable 
of carrying six people, being larger than those generally used at 
Port Jackson. 

It does not accord with the usually timid character of the natives 
of Terra Australis, to suppose the Indians came over from Isle 
Woodah for the purpose of making an attack; yet the circumstance 
of their being without women or children, — their following so briskly 
after Mr. Westall, — and advancing armed to the wooders, all imply 
that they rather sought than avoided a quarrel. I can account for 
this unusual conduct only by supposing, that they might have had 
differences with, and entertained no respectful opinion of the Asiatic 
visitors, of whom we had found so many traces, some almost in sight 
of this place. 

The body of Thomas Morgan who died so unfortunately, was 
this day committed to the deep with the usual ceremony ; and the 
island was named -after him, Morgan's Island. The basis stone is 

Digitized by 


Blue-mud Btty.*] TERRA AUSTRALIA W 

partly argillaceous, and in part sand stone, with a mixture in sonne i* 03 * 
places of iron ore, but more frequently of quartz. A little soil is Sfriwxtoy &t> 
formed upon the slopes of the hills and in the vallies ; and there, 
more especially at the east end of the island^ it is covered with small 
trees and coarse grass, which the late rains had caused to look fresh 
and green ; there were also some temporary drains of fresh water. 

The latitude of the hummock at the east end of Morgan's 
Island, is 13° 27^', and longitude from the survey, 13^ 9^'. Azimuths 
observed at the anchorage, with three compasses and! the ship's head 
in the magnetic meridian, gave 2° 23' east variation, which corres- 
ponded very well with the bearings. The tides here are very in- 
considerable, and" there appeared to be only one flood and one ebb 
in the day ; high water took place about midnight, when the moon 
was a little past the lower meridian ; but whether it will always he 
so far behind the moon, may admit of a doubt. 

A view of the main land to the westward, from Cape Barrow 
to Mount Grindall, had been obtained from the higher parts of 
Morgan's Island ; but a probability still remaining that some river 
might fall into the bay, I proposed to coast round it with the ship. 
On a breeze springing up at E. S. E., early in the afternoon, we 
steered round the west end of the island, and hauled to the north- 
ward; but meeting almost immediately with shoal water, the course 
was altered for the south-west, and afterwards for the south, part of 
the bay ; and finding no where more than 3 fathoms, we tacked to 
the N. E. at dusk, and came to an anchor. The bottom here, and in 
most other parts of the bay, is a blue mud of so fine a quality, that I 
judge it might be useful in the manufactory of earthern ware ; and 
I thence named this, Blue^mud Bay. 

It was evident from the uniform shallowness of the water, that 
Blue-mud Bay did not receive any stream of consequence, either in 
its south or western part ; 'and to the north, it seemed not to be 
accessible from this side. The main land rises very gradually from 

Digitized by 


200 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

i8os the water side into the country ; and the wood upon it made a greater 
Saturday as. show of fertility than on any borders of the Gulph of Carpentaria 

we had before seen. 
Sunday ss. We got under way again at daylight ; but the wind coming to 

blow strong from the eastward, with rain, thunder, and lightning, 
were not able to pass round the south end of Isle Woodah and get 
Tuesday 25. out of the bay, until the morning of the 25th. Our soundings in 
working out diminished to 2^ fathoms, near the opening between 
Bickerton's Island and Cape Barrow ; and it is probable that no ship 
passage exists there, although I had previously found as much as 
7 fathoms in the southern part of the opening. 

After clearing Blue-mud Bay, we worked to the north-east- 
ward ; and at eight in the evening, anchored under Nicol's Island 
in 5j fathoms, muddy bottom, one mile from the shore, and two 
and' a half from the low eastern point of Isle Woodah : two large 
rocks and much shoal water lie between the islands, and prevented 
Wednes. 26. me from seeking shelter there. In the morning we stretched 
N. N. E., for the projecting part of the main land before set at 
.N. S5° 20' E. from the eastern hummock of Morgan's Island ; and 
to which I have given the name of Cape Shield, in compliment to 
captain W. Shield, a commissioner of the navy. There is a small 
bay on its south-west side, and we anchored there in 4 fathoms, blue 
mud, with the outer points of the bay bearing S. 41 E. and N. 21 
W., each distant one mile. 

On landing with the botanists, I found the beach convenient 
for hauling the seine, and ordered one to be sent from the ship, 
which had tolerable success. The cape is low land, mostly covered 
with wood ; and a sandy hillock, perceived from the mast head 
about one mile behind the beach, being the sole place whence a view 
was likely to be obtained, I went there with a theodolite. No part 
of the main coast to the eastward could be seen from thence beyond 
a low projection distant seven or eight miles, which I named Point 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 201 

Arrowsmith ; to the west my view was obstructed by trees,* but isgs. 
some points before set were visible, and more to the southward ; wS«Xf. 
and the following, amongst many useful bearings, were taken. 

Chasm L, centre of the highest part, - - S. 33 15' E. 

Wedge Rock, centre, - - - S. 5 55 W. 

NicoFs I., south-east point (over the south ex- 
treme of C. Shield, dist. 1 j miles), - - S. 26 30 W. 

Round-hill Island, the top, - - - S. 89 25 W. 

Point Arrowsmith, - - - N. 62 «o E. 

The sand hill whence these bearings were taken, stands close 
to the water on the east side of Cape Shield ; and directly off it, at 
a mile and a half distance, lies a small island : upon the shore was 
found a carling of a ship's deck, of teak wood, in a decayed state. 
On the land side of the hill was a small lake of fresh water, fre- 
quented by ducks, teal, and smaller aquatic birds, several of which 
were shot. 

Cape Shield lies in latitude 13 d 19^' south, longitude by the 
survey 136 23' east ; it projects out six miles from the body of the 
land, and appears, when seen from the south, to be an island. Two 
cassowaries. were seen upon if, and many tracks of men, dogs, and 
kanguroos. The wood is small, and the soil sandy ; but the bota- 
nists made an ample collection of plants, some few of which made 
an addition to their former discoveries. 

Next morning we steered westward, with a fair wind, to ex- Thursday tjr. 
plore the main coast up to Mount Grindall, and see the northern 
part of Blue-mud Bay. At three leagues from Cape Shield, we 
passed a projecting point to which I gave the name of Point Blanc, 
in compliment to Dr. (now Sir Gilbert) Blane, of the naval medical 
board. Five miles from it to the W. S. W., lies Round-hill Island, 
and after passing between them with 4 fathoms water, I sent the 
boat to sound between the island and Mount Grindall, purposing to 
anchor there ; but the depth was too little for the ship. We then 
worked up to a large bight on the west side of Point Blane ; and 
vol. ir. D d 

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202 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

i8os. the water being shallow towards the head, anchored in 3 fathoms, 
Thur^sr. muddy ground, with the extremity of the point bearing S. 41 E. 
two and a half miles. 

An officer was sent on shore to search for fresh water and ex- 
amine the beach with a view to hauling the seine, but had no suc- 
cess ; the naturalist accompanied him, to botanise, and not coming 
down to the boat at dusk, the officer left a man with a fire on the 
beach, to wait his arrival. At ten o'clock a gun was fired, and the 
boat sent back ; but nothing had been heard of the naturalist, or the 
seaman who carried his specimen boxes, and some apprehensions 
Friday «8. began to be entertained. Soon after daylight we had the satisfac- 
tion to see Mr. Brown op the shore. It appeared that from one of 
those mistakes which so frequently occur in thick woods and dull 
weather, when without a compass, the east had been mistaken for 
west; and Mr. Brown reached the water side at dusk, but on the 
wrong side of the point. He thought it more prudent to remain 
there all night, than to re-enter the wood in the dark ; and the 
report of the gun having given him the true direction, he had no 
difficulty in the morning. No natives were seen ; but the howling 
of dogs was heard not far off. 

Whilst the botanists continued to follow their pursuits upon 
Point Blane, I went over in the whale-boat to Mount Grindall, with 
the landscape painter ; from whence, after cutting down some small 
trees at the top, my view extended over all the neighbouring islands, 
points, and bays. Blue-mud Bay was seen to reach further north 
than Mount Grindall, making it to be upon a long point, which I also 
named Point Grindall, from respect to the present vice-admiral of that 
name ; further west, in the bay, was a stream running five or six 
miles into the land, terminating in a swamp, and with shoal banks 
and a low island at the entrance ; all the northern part of the bay, 
indeed, seemed to be shallow, and to have no ship passage into it 
on the north side of Isle Woodah. The large bight between Points 
Grindall and Blane extended two leagues above the ship, but it did 

Digitized by 


Oulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA. 20» 

not appear to receive any stream of water; a still larger bight, be- iaos. 
tween Poin Blane and Cape Shield was also visible, though not so Fridayls. 
distinct as to speak of it particularly : the extremity of the cape bore 
S. 76 15' E. An observation to the north and south, taken on the 
outermost rocks, pkces Mount Grindall in 13* 15^' south; and the 
longitude from survey is 136* 6±' east Mr. WestalPs sketch in the 
Atlas, taken from the ship at anchor under Point Blane, will show (Pi. xvrn. 
the appearance of this mount and of the neighbouring land. * 

The top of Mount Grindall consists of the same kind of sftnd 
stone, with particles of quartz in it, as seen at Groote Eylandt ; but 
the rocks oh the shore are granite, and one block made a brilliant 
appearance from the quantity of mica it contained. There is very 
little soil on the surrounding land, the surface being either sandy or 
stony ; it was however mostly covered with grass and wood, and 
amongst the trees was a cluster of the new species of eugenia, from 
which the boat's crew filled their handkerchiefs with fruit, which 
they called apples. Two natives were distinguished upon Rounds 
hill Island ; but none at Point Grindall, nor any thing to show that 
they had been there recently : the foot-marks of dogs and kangu- 
roos were both recent and numerous. 

Strong squalls from the eastward, with rain, much impeded our 
return to the ship in the evening; and from a continuance of the 
same unfavourable weather, Point Blane could not be repassed until 
the afternoon of the 30th. The wind was then S* E., and we worked Sunday s&. 
to windward all night, between the main coast and Isle Woodah ^ 
and not being able to weather Cape Shield on the following day, Monday si. 
we ran to our former anchorage under it, and remained there for 
the night. 

Next morning we stood out of the bay with light winds j and February 
after being put into some danger by them, in passing the island near 
Cape Shield, a breeze sprung up at W. by S. and we proceeded in 
the examination of the main coast. The situation of the ship at noon, 
and the bearings of the land were as under : 

Digitized by 


204 A VOYAGE TO INortk Coast. 

1803.- Latitude, observed to thenorth and south, * ig° go' 16" 


Tuesday i. Chasm L, centre of the high part, - S. 16 E. 

Cape Shield, the south extremity, - N. 86 W. 

Point Arrowsmith, dist. 6 miles, - N. 18 W. 

Furthest extreme visible from the deck, - N. 10 E. 
Our course was then directed N. E. by N., parallel with the coast, 
until the wind veered round a-head and drove us off to the eastward; 
at six o'clock Point Arrowsmith bore W. 2 S., ten or eleven miles, 
and a round hummock, beyond the noon's extreme, was then seen 
at N. «y° E. The coast here shows some projections on which are 
sandy hills, with shallow bights between them ; the hills further 
back, especially behind Point Arrowsmith, are better covered with 
wood, but there was no appearance of fertility in the country, nor of 
shelter in the bights. 

We worked to windward all night, with a north-western 
Wednes.3. breeze ; and in the morning saw two islands, the outermost rather 
low and flat, nearly in the situation where three are marked in the 
Dutch chart. These are laid down at the entrance of an opening, 
of a river-like form ; and there appeared to be a wide opening be- 
hind them, the entrance being round a projection upon which is the 
hummock set at N. ai° E. in the evening : this projection I have 
named Cape Grey, in compliment to the Hon. general Grey, lately 
. commander of the forces at the Cape of Good Hope. Our situation 
and bearings at noon were, 

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 

Longitude from survey, 

Furthest southern extreme, from the deck, 

Cape Grey, the round hummock, 

■ ■ outermost rocks near it, 

Outer and rather flat isle, centre, 

On the wind veering to north-east, we were enabled to weather 

the rocks near Cape Grey, but not more than a quarter of a mile ; 

the depth in passing was 9 fathoms, and it continued between that 


8' 4i" 

136 467 













Digitized by 


CaledonBay] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 205 

and 11, two miles further up the bay, where, on its falling calm, an .J. 804 - 


anchor was dropped. In the evening we ran further up, and at sun- Wednet. s. 
set anchored in g fathoms, mud and sand, near the innermost and 
largest of three islands which lie in the entrance. Around, and be- 
tween these islands, were many islets and rocks, and others were 
seen to the north-eastward; the bay extended to the north-west, 
and was divided into two branches by a projection named Point Middle, 
the eastern branch being defended from the sea by a tongue of 
land, whose south point seemed to be connected by a reef of rocks 
with the inner island. This point I have called Point Alexander; 
and to a hill upon the furthest visible part of the coast to the north- 
ward, the appellation of Mount Alexander is given. 

In the morning, there being no wind to move the ship, 'I sent Thuw.s; 
the master up the bay with the whale boat, to search for fresh water 
and a secure anchorage ; and on his making the signal to follow, a 
little before noon, we steered for Point Middle. A shoal was seen 
to extend from it, down the bay ; and the depth having diminished 
to 4 fathoms, we hauled up into the eastern branch, and anchored 
under Point Alexander in 4 ± fathoms, muddy bottom ; our distance 
from the shore being one mile, and two cables length from a bank 
in front of it, upon which there was only six feet water. In thi* 
situation, the outer rocks near Cape Grey bore S. 28* E., and the 
inner rocks from the island near Point Alexander, S. 35 E. ; the 
intermediate angle of /being that at which alone we were open to 
the sea. Several natives were seen on the shore abreast of the ship, 
and lieutenant Fowler was sent to communicate with them, and to 
search for fresh water. They staid to receive him, without showing 
that timidity so usual with the Australians ; and after a friendly inter- 
course in which mutual presents were made, Mr. Fowler returned 
with the information that fresh water was plentiful. 

Early next morning, having given directions for two tents, a Friday 4. 
seine, and a corporal's guard, to be sent on shore under the command 
of the first lieutenant, I landed with the botanical gentlemen ; the 
natives running from their night residences to meet us. There were 

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206 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

Feb^y twe * ve middle-aged and young men, all of whom expressed much 
Friday 4. joy, especially at seeing Bomaree, our good-natured Indian from 
Port Jackson. On the arrival of two other boats, the natives re- 
treated into the wood, except two, who assisted in hauling the seine; 
and the others came back by degrees, without arms as before, and 
received a portion of the fish. A situation was chosen for the tents, 
and confidence seeming to be established, I went into the wood, 
towards some sand hills, for the purpose of taking bearings ; but 
whilst making the circuit of a salt swamp which lay in the way, the 
natives were heard running in the wood, and calling to each other 
This happened twice, and at length a musket was fired ; upon which 
I returned to the tents with all expedition. 

When the bptanical gentlemen had entered the wood with their 
attendants, the greater part of the natives followed them ; and one took 
an opportunity of snatching a hatchet from the hand of a servant. The 
Indians then ran off; but seeing no pursuit, nor much notice taken, soon 
returned, and became more friendly than ever. Each of our party had 
a native with him, walking arm in arm, and Mr. Brown's servant had 
two, who paid him particular attention ; so much so, that whilst one 
held him by the arm, the other snatched the musket off his shoulder, 
and they all again ran off; that is, all who remained, for several had 
previously withdrawn themselves. A musket was fired after the thief; 
but he had already got some distance, and it produced no other visible 
effect than that of making him run faster. The botanists then judged 
it imprudent to follow their pursuit, and returned to the tents. 

Two hours passed before any thing more was heard of the 
natives; some were then seen in the wood, and an interview was 
obtained with two, who being made to understand that a hatchet 
would be given on the musket being returned, they went off to fetch 
it. In a little time it was actually brought, with the stock broken 
and ram-rod gone, and the hatchet was paid ; after which the natives 
came to the tents with confidence, and some would have remained 
all night, had they been permitted. 
Aturday 5. This afternoon and the following morning, I took bearings from 

Digitized by 


Caledon Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. £07 

two stations on Point Middle, and others from a sandy hummock on „ J 803 - 

y February. 

Point Alexander. The natives came early to the tents, and behaved Saturdays, 
themselves tranquilly until noon ; when one of those who had been 
most kindly treated, ran off with a wooding axe, and from the thickness 
of the forest, eluded the pursuit made after him. The corporal and 
another marine, who had run after the Indian without their hats, re- 
ceived a coup-de-soleil, and were sent on board in a state nearly 
approaching to delirium ; but they happily recovered. 

Finding these people so determinately bent upon stealing every 
thing within their reach, I ordered lieutenant Fowler to watch an 
opportunity of seizing two of them ; and after a while to release 
one, making him understand that the other would be carried away 
in the ship, if the stolen axe were not returned. In the evening, 
I went over with two of the gentlemen to the south side of the bay ; 
for the purpose of taking a station upon a hill there named Mount 
Caledon, whose height exceeded that of any other near the water side. 
We landed at dusk, at the foot of the mount ; and ascended 
the top next morning before the heat of the sun became excessive, Sunday a. 
passing in the way several streamlets which were coursing rapidly 
down to the sea. The view was fully equal to what had been anti- 
tipated, and extended to a projection half way to Point Arrowsmith 
on one side, and over all the islands in the entrance to Mount Alex- 
ander on the other. Out of thirty-nine bearings taken at this sta- 
tion, the following are selected as being most essential to the survey 
of the coast. 

The tents, N. 27*50' E. 

Point Alexander, the extremity, - N. 60 o E. 

Outer, and rather flat isle, N. 86° 15' to 88 22 E. 

Mount Alexander, the top - N. 37 30 E. 

Cape Grey, the outer rocks near it, S. 65 5 E. 

A southern projection of the coast, S. 14 8 E. 

We returned to the ship in the afternoon, and the natives had 
not then approached the tents since the theft of the axe ; but next 

Digitized by 


208 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803- morning two of them advanced, bringing some small fruits ; and on 

February. m 

Monday r. being invited to eat fish, they sat down and were immediately seized, 
some others who followed, running away on hearing their cries. In 
a little time the eldest and most intelligent of them was liberated ; 
on his promising by signs to restore the axe, and being made to 
understand that his companion would be carried off, should he faiL 
We observed from the ship much running of the natives amongst 
the bushes, and peeping about the tents; and least they should 
attempt any mischief, a spring was put upon the cable, and a six- 
pounder, with grape shot, kept ready ; but after one of the prisoners 
was released they seemed to have less anxiety, and several swam 
back across a salt creek, to their usual place of residence. 

In the evening I landed at the tents ; and taking the native, a 
youth of fourteen named Woga, into the boat, rowed to the place 
most frequented by the Indians, many of whom were seen behind 
the bushes. Two came forward, bringing a young girl in their 
arms; and by expressive signs they offered her to Bongaree, in 
order to entice him on shore, for the purpose, apparently, of seizing 
him by way of retaliation. We demanded the restoration of the axe, 
and our prisoner seemed to use all his powers to enforce it ; but the 
constant answer was, that the thief Yehangeree, had been beaten and 
was gone away ; and finding no axe likely to be brought, Woga 
was carried on board the ship, through a great deal of crying, in- 
treating, threatening, and struggling on his part. He there ate 
heartily, laughed, sometimes cried, and noticed every thing; fre- 
quently expressing admiration at what he saw, and especially at the 
sheep, hogs, and cats. We had not seen any bows and arrows in 
the Gulph of Carpentaria, nor in any part of Terra Australia ; but 
some of those from Murray's Islands being shown to Woga, he 
knew the use of them, and gave their names in his language; it may 
therefore be true, as Burgomaster Witsen relates, that they are used 
by the natives on the North-west Coast and in the Gulph; but when 
he describes the bows as being " of such a length, that one end rests 

Digitized by 


Calidon Bay.] TERRA. AUSTRALIA *» 

" on the ground when shooting," I cannot help suspecting some ***• 
exaggeration in his informer. 

After breakfast next morning, I took our prisoner to the tents. Tuesdaj 8* 
On approaching the shore, he was preparing to make a spring out 
of the boat, which made it necessary to bind him again, for be had 
been loosed on board the ship. He- struggled much, calling upon 
Bongaree to assist him ; but after a while, became quiet, and I left 
him bound to a tree, eating rice and /fish. 

A party of the gentlemen landed near the head of the bay, 
hoping to botanize without interruption ; but a number of native* 
had collected there, two of whom advanced, and sought to entice 
them into the wood by explaining how many animals might be there 
shot. The gentlemen were aware of the treachery, and soon thought 
it advisable to return to the boat ; upon which the natives closed in 
upon them, with poised spears and every appearance of intended 
mischief. The pointing of muskets stopped their forwardness for a 
moment ; but they came on again, and a shot was fired at each of 
the two foremost, which put them to flight, and they were not seen 
afterwards ; but the gentlemen thought it unsafe to proceed in their 
occupation, and returned to the sjiip* Neither of the two natives 
dropped ; but the muskets being loaded with buck shot, it was sup-* 
posed that one or both, must have been wounded. 

The second evening of Woga's captivity came, and there was 
no appearance of the axe being restored ; his detention, on the coik 
trary , had caused some annoyance to us, and mischief to his country- 
men ; and if persevered in to the extent of carrying him away, might 
be an injury to those who should come after us, especially to captain 
Baudin, whom we daily expected to meet, according to what he bad 
said at Port Jackson. Had the consequences affected ourselves alone, 
the time of our departure was so near that I should have been glad 
to have kept Woga ; for he was a sprightly lad,' whom our treat- 
ment would soon have reconciled, and in any future intercourse 
with his countrymen, as also in furnishing information upon many 
vol. iu E e . 

Digitized by 


210 'A TOY AGE TO \North Cohst. 

isos. interesting points, he might have been of* service; but for the above 
Tuesday 8. reason, and that it was not altogether just to do otherwise, I deter- 
mined to release the poor prisoner though the axe should not be 
restored, and went to the tents for that purpose. Woga appeared to 
be a little melancholy in his bondage, but upon the whole, had not 
fared amiss, havmg been eating the greater part of the morning and 
afternoon. He begged hard to be released, promising, with tears in 
his eyes, to bring back the axe; and after giving him some clothing 
and presents, he was suffered to depart. As far as two hundred 
yards, he walked away leisurely ; but then, looking first behind 
him, took Jo his heels with all his might, leaving us no faith in the* 
fulfilment of his pathetic promises. 

At this time the holds were completed with water and wood, 
Wednes. 9. and on the following : morning the last observations for the time 
keepers. were taken; after which the shore establishment was em- 
barked, and we prepared for s^a. The botanists made an excursion 
topon Point Middle, and pursued their researches without disturbance ; 
and neither Woga nor any of his countrymen were seen during the 
whole day. 

z . . It has been said, that an opening of a river-like form is laid 
down in the Dutch chart, in the situation of this bay. No name is 
there given to it ; . and as I conceive our examination to confer the 
right of bestowing one, I have distinguished it by the title of Caledon 
Bay, as a mark of respect to the worthy nobleman, lately governor 
of the Cape of Good Hope, after whom the mount on the south ^de 
was also named. 

There is no other safe passage into the bay than that between 
the islands in the entrance and Cape Grey ; which cape is remark- 
able for therround hummock on its extremity, and lies in latitude 
13° i' south, and longitude i$6° 42 1 east. The western branch of 
the bay appeared to be shallow, and not well sheltered, so that I did 
not go up it to sound; but in the eastern branch, which is near three 
t mile& wide,; there is from 4 to 3 fathoms on blue mud, up to within 

Digitized by 


Caledon Bay.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 21 1 

three-quarters 'of a mile of a rocky point at the head ; and the rocks F ^JL* 
of Point Alexander may there be nearly, if not altogether brought 
to shut on with those of Cape Grey. Wood for fuel was plentiful 
every where, and there was no difficulty in procuring water from 
the ponds and holes in the low, sandy land near the shore of Point 
Alexander; but from May to December, I doubt whether they 
would not all be dried up, as well- as the small streams which de- 
scended from Mount Caledon. Our success with the seine was very 
moderate, more sea slugs, of what we called sea cucumbers from 
their shape, being brought on shore than fish ; these differed from 
what we had seen on the reefs of the East Coast, in being of a more 
firm consistence, and of a light brown or grey, instead of a black 
colour : when these slugs were pressed with the foot, they threw out a 
stream of water to some distance. 

The country round Caledon Bay, especially at the heads of 
the two branches, is generally low land; Mount Caledon and the 
hills of the south side are of granite, and this stone is found in some 
other parts ; but at Point Alexander the basis is a sand stone, more 
or less impregnated with iron, and at Point Middle it is almost iron 
ore. A piece of this last stone carried the needle of the theodolite ' 

entirely round ; yet the bearings taken from thence did not show 
any difference from those at Mount Caledon, and from those upon 
Point Alexander, taken from a hillock of sea sand, they did not differ 
moire than half a degree. 

So far as our examination went the soil is poor, being either 
sandy or stony, with a small mixture in some places of vegetable earth ; 
notwithstanding which both the grass and wood were luxuriant, 
owing to the abundance of rain which had lately fallen, and to the # 
warmth of the climate : in the dry season, I should judge the coun- 
try would be almost burnt up. The casuarina was plentiful in the 
sandy places, and the eucalyptus amongst the rocks, where it reached 
. a tolerable size ; the wild nutmeg was found upon Point Middle, 
and there alone; our apple, the new species of eugenia, grew on . 

Digitized by 


£12 AVOYAOETO {North Coa$t. 

1803. Point Alexander and -elsewhere, and also a few other plants bearing 

f ebruaxy* 

small fruits of little use. Foot marks of the kanguroo were seen in 
different places, but none of the animals, nor indeed any quadruped; 
and birds seemed to be rare, both in the woods and on the shores. 

The natives qf Caledon Bay are the same race of men as those 
of Port Jackson and King George's Sound, places at nearly the two 
opposite extremities of Terra Australis;* in personal appearance 
they were behind some tribes we had seen, but the difference did 
not go beyond what a less abundant supply of food might produce. 
All those who came to the tents had lost the upper front tooth on 
the left side, whereas at Port Jackson it is the right tooth which is 
knocked out at the age of puberty ; whether the women undergo 
the same operation, contrary to the usage at Port Jackson, we had 
no opportunity of knowing, having seen only one female, and that 
at a distance. This girl wore a small piece of bark, in guise of a 
fig leaf, which was the sole approximation to clothing seen among 
them. Above the elbow the men usually wone a bandage of net 
work, in which was stuck a short piece of strong grass, called tomo, 
and used as a tooth pick ; but the most remarkable circumstance in 
their persons was, that the whole of them appeared to have under- 
gone the Jewish and Mahometan rite of circumcision. The same 
thing was before noticed in a native of Isle Woodah, and in two at 
Wellesley's Islands; It would seem, therefore, to be general on the 
west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria ; but with what view it may be 
done, or whence the custom were received, it is not in my power to 
state, No such practice was found on the South or East Coasts, nor 
was it observed in the natives of the islands in Torres' Strait, who 
however, go naked as the Australians. 

No other weapons than spears were seen amongst these people ; 

* la Van Diemen's LancJ, according to captain Cook and succeeding visitors, and on the 
North-west Coast, according to Dampier, the inhabitants have woolly hair; in which par- 
ticular they are different from the race above mentioned. Which of them may be abori- 
gines can be only conjectured, until the interior of the new continent shall be explored. 

Digitized by 


Valedon Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALW. 21* 

1>ut they were not unacquainted with bows and arrows. It is ***• 

> February, 

probable that they have bark canoes, though none were seen, for 
several trees were found stripped, as if for that purpose ; yet when 
Bongaree made them a present of the canoe brought from Blue-mud 
Bay, they expressed very little pleasure at the gift, and did not seem 
to know how to repair it. 

That this bay had before received the visits erf" some strangers, 
was evinced by the knowledge which the natives had of fire arms ; they 
Imitated the act of shooting when we first landed, and when a musket 
was fired at their request, were not much alarmed. A quantity of 
posts was lying near the water, which had been evidently cut with 
iron instruments ; and when we inquired of the inhabitants concern- 
ing them, they imitated with their hands the motion of an axe cutting 
down a tree, and then stopping, exclaimed Poo ! Whence we under- 
stood that the people who cut the wood had fire arms. This was all 
that 6ould fye learned from the natives ; but from the bamboos and 
partitions of frame work found here, similar to those at Pellew's 
Group, they were doubtless the same Asiatic nation, if not the same 
Individuals, of whom so many traces had been seen all the way from 
the head of the gulph. The propensity shown by the natives to steal, 
especially our axes, so contrary to all I have known and heard of 
their countrymen, is not only a proof that they had been previously 
visited by people possessing iron implements, but from their audacity 
it would appear, that the effect of fire arms was either not very cer- 
tain in the hands of the strangers, or had seldom been resorted to in 
the punishment of aggression ; and from the circumstance of the In* 
dians bringing us a few berries, as a recompense for the last stolen 
axe, it should seem that they had been accustomed to make very 
easy atonements for their thefts. I have some hope that those who 
may follow us will not be robbed, at least with so much effrontery ; 
and at the same time, that the inhabitants of Caledon Bay will not 
avoid, but be desirous of further communication with Europeans. 

I do not know that the language at any two parts of Terra 

Digitized by 


214 A VOYAGE fO [Nor th Coast. 

1803. Austrajis, however near, has been found to be entirely the same ; for 


even at Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay, not only the 
dialect, but many words are radically different;* and this confirms one 
part of an observation , the truth of which seems to be generally admit- 
ted : that although similarity of language in two nations proves their 
origin to be the same, yet dissimilarity of language is no proof of the 
contrary position. The language of Caledon Bay may therefore be 
totally different to what is spoken on the East and South Coasts, and' 
yet the inhabitants have one common origin ; but I do not think that 
the language is absolutely and wholly different, though it certainly 
was no better understood by Bongaree than by ourselves. In three 
instances I found a similarity : the personal pronouri of Port Jacksonv 
gni+a (I), was used here, and apparently in the same sense; when 
inquiry was made after the axe, the natives replied " Tehangereepy" 
making signs of beating ; andpy signifies to beat, in the Port- Jackson 
language; the third instance was of the lad Woga calling to Bongaree 
in the boat, which after he had done several times without being an- 
swered, he became angry, and exclaimed Bongaree-gah ! in a vehe- 
ment manner, as Bongaree himself would have done in a similar 
case. For the following list of words I am principally indebted 
to Mr.- Brown, naturalist to the expedition; who remarked that 
the word here for eye was very nearly the same with that used, 
both at King George's Sound and Port Jackson, to express the same 

* This multiplicity of tongues in the same country presents an extraordinary contrast 
with the islands in the Great Ocean, where, from the Sandwich Isles near tht: northern 
tropic, to the furthest extremity of New Zeeland in 47° south, th*. language is almost 
every where the same ; and with so little difference of dialect, that the several inhabitant* 
have not much difficulty to understand each other. , 

Digitized by 


Caledon Bay.] 




Eye - 


^ perforation of 

the cartilage 








Hair of the head 

Neck . 



3ack - - / 



r-palm (or belly) 1 

.of - j 

back of - J 

-back of 
Fingers - 



— calf of 




Caledon Bay. 


Ur-roorHur ro 

Lal-kal n'ur-ro 






Pon-door-ro or 






Nappa or 


Wan na or 




O-pur or No- 


Le-kal or Le- 






Loc-ko or 



Foot, toes (or fin-1 
gers)of - J 



Stars - , 
Sea, or salt water 




Stone f 
Rainbow -~ - 
Honey - 
I£anguroo - 
Gigantic cockle 
Paddle of a canoe 
Throwing stick 
Bracelet abovethel 

elbow - - J 

above the wrist 

Cord of hair, worn! 

about the belly j 
Scar across the V 

breast - - J 
Tooth-pick of 

strong grass 
Bow-string - 



Good to eat 




Caledon Bay. 


Man gel loc-ko 


La-ran-gai or 


Kul-le-ge a 



Luc-ka or 




Goi-ko luc-ko 





Dai or Tai 



In collecting the words some errors may possibly have been made, 
either from misunderstanding the natives or from their ■deceiving' us 

Digitized by 


Sift A VOYAGE TO [Afort* Coa$*. 

1803. intentionally ; for after the trick put upon Mons. Labillardifere at the 
Friendly Islands, in the words given him for the high numerals, they 
are always to be suspected. 

During the week we remained in Caledon Bay, the following 
astronomical observations were taken. 

Latitude from three observations to the north 
and south, taken in a boat astern of the ship 
and reduced to the tents on Point Alexander, 1 2? 47' tfi" St 
Longitude from twelve sets of distances of stara 
east and west of the moon, taken on a 
stand by lieut. Flinders, and of which the 
. individual results are given in Table VI. 

of the Appendix No. I, - 136 35 47,5 El 

The rates of the time keepers were found from morning's* 

altitudes of the sun m an artificial horizon, between Fel>. 5 and 4 8 ; and 

the means, with the errors from mean Greenwich time at noon 1 there 

on the gtb, were as under : 

Earnshaw's No. 543, slow 3*41' o",9i and losing 16^,55 per day. 
• No. 5*o, - * 27 19, 55 - - 30, 83: 
No. 520 had been accidentally let down in Blue-mud Bay, 
whence its longitude is not now noticed; that given by No. .$43011 
Feb. 3, with the rate from Observation Island, was 136 43J 3",5, or 
7' 16" greater than the lunars. Were a rate used, equally accele- 
rated from that of Observation Island to what was found in Caledoi* 
1 Bay, the longitude would be o^ $g r less than the lunars ; but during 
the twelve days occupied in circumnavigating Groote Eylandt, it was 
proved that this tiipe keeper was keeping its former rate, and con- 
sequently the acceleration cannot here be admitted. 

In constructing the chart of the coast and islands between 
Pellew's Group and Caledon Bay, a time keeper was required only 
in laying down the south and east sides of Groote Eylandt, and the 
main coast up to Cape Barrow ; in all the remaining parts the longi- 
tude was preserved by a connected chain of bearings, mostly taken 
•n shore. The time-keeper reckoning from Observation Island, and 

Digitized by 


Caledon Bay.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 21T 

that by survey worked back from the fixed point in Caledon Bay, F jg[J|^ 
meet each other on Jan. a p. m. at Connexion Island ; and the differ- 
ence was there found to be a' 41", which the time keeper gave more 
to the east. This may have arisen from Observation Island being 
laid down in a longitude too great by that quantity, or Caledon Bay 
too little, or from a small error in each ; but the time keeper was 
not thought entitled to such perfect confidence, as to cause an altera- 
tion to be made in these stations. The difference of 2' 41" is there- 
fore corrected by applying — 16", 3 of longitude per day to the time 
keeper, from Observation to Connexion Island ; Groote Eylandt is 
laid down mostly from the time keeper, with the fixed correction 
— 2' 41" all round; and from thence to Caledon Bay the chart is 
constructed from bearings and observed latitudes. 

The mean dip of the south end of the needle, ob- 
served at the tents, was - - - - 36*28' 
Variation of the theodolite, - • «*■ ' - 2 20 E. 

On board the ship, at anchor off the south-west side 
of the inner island at the entrance, the variation 
from three compasses, with the head N. W. f 
was a° a6 v ; by the surveying compass alone, 
2° 46' east, and this, which 1 consider to be the 
best, would be, corrected, - - 1 14 E. 

At my different stations on shore, the variation seemed to be 
between 2 and 2* 20' east ; except on the north-east end of the outer 
island in the entrance, where it appeared to be no more than i° 30'. 
The rise of tide in Caledon Bay was so small, that nothing 
certain could be determined on board, either upon the quantity or 
the time ; but it appeared from the observations of lieutenant Fowler 
at the tents, that there were two tides in the day, the rise of which 
varied from 3 feet 10, to 4 feet 10 inches; and that the time of high 
water took place at nine hours and a half after the moon passed over 
and under the meridian. 

On board the ship, the range of the thermometer was from 
vol. 11. F f 

Digitized by 


218 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

Feb™* - **8° t0 ^ ncar 'y as lt ^ ad been from ft* 8 * ente nng the Gulph of 
Carpentaria ; and on shore it was -probably io* higher. Several of our 
people were ill of diarrhoeas at this time, accompanied with some 
fever, which was attributed by the surgeon to the heat and the moist 
state of the atmosphere ; for since December, when the north-west 
monsoon began, not many days had passed without rain, and thunder 
squalls were frequent. Exposing the head uncovered to the sun, 
more especially if engaged in strong exercise, was proved to be very 
dangerous here ; I lost one man in Blue-mud Bay from a want of 
due precaution in this particular, and at this place two others very 
narrowly escaped. Musketoes were numerous and exceedingly 
troublesome on shore, as also the black flies; but no venemous 
reptiles were seen in our limited excursions round Caledon Bay* 
The mercury in the barometer stood between 29,90 and 29,95 
inches, in the rainy weather with strong winds from the eastward ; 
but with fine weather and variable winds, more especially from the 
south and westward, it descended to 29,80 inches. 

Digitized by 


Gvlph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIS; $»< 


Departure from Caledon Bay. Cape Anthem. Melville Bay. Cafe. 
Wilberforce, and Bromby's Isles. The English Company 9 s Islands : 
meeting there with vessels from Macassar. Arnhem Bay. The 
WesseVs "Islands. Further examination of the North Coast postponed. 
Arrival at Coepang Bay, in Timor. Remarks and astronomical obser- 

At daylight in the mornmg of Feb. 10, we sailed down Caledon isas. 
Bay, and steered eastward along the south side of the islands lying ^J^uS'. 
in the entrance. In passing the outer island I landed with the bota- (Atiaa, 
uical gentlemen, and. took bearings from a small elevation on its. 
north-east end, which materially assisted in fixing the positions of 
the nprthern islets, and extending the survey onward along the coast. 

Cape Grey, the hummock on it, bore - S. 27° 13' W. 

Mount Alexander, * - - N. ix 4a W. 

Furthest extreme northward, - - N. 13 43 E. 
This outer island is nearly a mile long, E. by N. and W. by S., 
and mostly destitute of wood; but one valley was thickly covered, 
and so interlaced with vines as to be impenetrable* The latitude 
observed to the north and south, at the sapdy west point, was 

*2° 5*' 59" sout h- 

We re-joined the ship at one o'clock, and steered northward, 
without side of the islets and rocks which lie scattered, along the 
shore as far as Mount Alexander. Amongst these are three neaj 
to each other, with hummocks upon them, which, as in many point? < 
of view they seem to make but one island, may probably have been 
meant by the nprthernmost of the three isles in the Dutch chart- : 

Digitized by 


*20 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast, 

1803. The wind had been from the southward, 'but on closing in 

February. % ° 

Thurs. 10. with the coast at Mount Alexander it came from N. W. by N., and 
edged us off a little from the land. At sunset the shore was three 
or four miles distant, and 

Mount Alexander bore - S. g$° W. 

A hummock at the furthest extreme, - N. 9 E. 
We steered on till eight o'clock, and then anchored in 21 fathoms, 
Friday ii. blue mud. At daylight, the shore was found to be distant four or 
five miles ; the furthest part then seen was near the eastern extremity 
of Arnhem's Land, and this having no name in the Duch chart, is 
called Cape Arnhem. 

Mount Alexander was set at S. 48 s W. 

Two rocks under the shore, dist. 5 or 6 miles, N. 15 W. 

Cape Arnhem, rising land within the extremity, N. 1 1 j W. 

From Mount Alexander to Cape Arnhem there is nine leagues 
of waving sandy coast ; it affords only one small opening, which is? 
on the south side of a cliffy point, with two islets lying off the en- 
trance, and may probably afford shelter for boats. 

At eight in the morning we passed Cape Arnhem, a smooth 
grassy projection which rises gently from the water's edge into the 
country, but is no where of much elevation ; a broad rock lies near 
the south-eastern extremity, and its position was ascertained to be 
12 19' south, and 137 1' east. Strong ripplings of a tide or cur- 
rent extended some distance off the cape, and in passing through 
them we had irregular soundings between 27 and 18 fathoms; be- 
3 r ond Cape Arnhem the shore trended N. W. by N., in rocky points 
and shallow bights, but the wind being from that direction, we could 
not follow it closely. The furthest land visible at noon was a flat- 
topped hill which I call Mount Saunders, and nearer to us was* higher 
and more woody hill, also flat-topped and steep at its north end, to 
which is given the name of Mount Dundas ; their bearings, and our 
position at this time were as under : 

Digitized by 


Gulph of Carpentaria.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 221 

Latitude observed, - - - MM**' i 803, 

* February* 

Longitude from survey and time keeper r - 137 a^ Friday n. 

Mount Dundas, blufrnorth end, dist. 8 miles, S. 85 W. 

Mount Saunders, north end, - - N. 84^ W. 

Cape Arnhem , a rising within the extremity, S. 2 1 W. 
We tacked to the westward in the afternoon, and an island 
came in sight, lying to the north of the two mounts, with several 
rocks and islets scattered on its north-east side. At sunset the wind died 
away, and a stream anchor was dropped in 16 fathoms sandy ground ; 
our situation being five miles from the shore under Mount Dundas, 
and three from the nearest rocky islets to the north-west. The flood 
tide set gently to the westward, and induced me to suppose there 
might be a passage within the island and rocks, and in the morning Saturday t*» 
our endeavours were used to reach it ; but the winds being light and 
mostly contrary, the evening came before we got through. An an- 
chor was then dropped in 4 fathoms, coarse sand, one mile and a half 
from the sandy shore under Mount Saunders, and three miles from 
the south-west end of the island. The passage is more than two 
miles wide, and our soundings in working through it were between ' 
4^ and 6 fathoms on a gravelly bottom; but afterwards we had little 
more in some places than 3 fathoms. 

Two natives, with a canoe, had been seen upon the island ; and 
as our boat stood that way, sounding a-head of the ship, they waved 
and called to the people. The island is about five miles long, and 
between one and two in breadth ; it is low, mostly destitute of wood, 
and the shores in general are sandy ; and not being laid down in the 
Dutch chart, I distinguish it, with the islets and rocks to the north 
and north-east, by the name of Melville Isles : the south end which 
forms the passage, lies in ia°8£' south, and 136 59/ east. In the 
opposite shore, between Mount Saunders and Dundas, is a sandy 
bight where ships would be sheltered from all winds except those 
at north-east, if the water be deep enough for them. The trees upon 
the hills showed a dark-green foliage ; but the low land, especially 

Digitized by 


22& A VOYAGE TO {North C<wt> 

i8os. under Mount Saunders, was sandy and barren, and so continued for 
Sato^w. seven miles westward, to a low point near a woody islet. Further 
on, the coast took a northern direction, and was seen from the mast 
head as far as N.N. W. ; but no other part could be set from the 
deck than the highest of several eminences on the back land, named 
Mount Bonner, which proved to be an useful mark in the survey. 
The bearirtgs taken at this anchorage were principally these : 

Mount Dundas, bluff north end, S. 54° E, 

Woody islet, near a western sandy point, - S. $2 W. 

Mount Bonner, - - • N. 8a W. 

Melville Isles, the northernmost, - - N. 13 E. 

— , the largest, . - N. 33 E. to East. 

fanday is* i n the morning we steered westward, with a light air of.wind 

at south and a flood tide in our favour ; and having passed over some 
ripplingsr near the anchorage, our soundings became regular, in- 
creasing from 7 to 19 fathoms. On a breeze setting in at north-west, 
the course was directed towards a bight behind the woody islet; and 
a little before noon its appearance became so promising, that I 
steered into it before the wind. In passing the islet and sandy point 
we had from 10 to 7 fathoms, in an opening of four'miles wide; and 
a bay of considerable extent then lay before us. In the middle of the 
bay were three rocks, and to the north-east pf them a head-land, 
beyond which the water extended eastward ; we steered to pass be* 
tween these till the depth diminished to 4 fathoms, when we tacked 
and let go the anchor in the north-eastern part of the bay, in 5 fa*, 
thorns, muddy bottom ; the sandy point at the entrance bore W. by 
N., one mile and a quarter, and the largest of some granitic rocks in 
front of the beach, N. by W. half a mile. 

A boat was sent to haul the seine on the beach, and I went 
there with ihe botanical gentlemen. The depth was 5 fathoms close 
to the shore, even within the rocks ; and the ship might have been 
placed there in perfect security, though the room was scarcely suf* 
ficient to allow of swinging at single anchor. ' I called the largest 

Digitized by 


Melville Bay.} TERRA. AUSTRALIS. 22» 

of the rocks which form the south-east side of this snug little M 03 ' 


place, Harbour Rock; and the sandy point at the entrance of the bay Sunder xs. 
is named Point Dundas. After the seine had been hauled with good 
success, I walked to the extremity of the point ; and from a hillock 
of sand a little way back, took a set of bearings to commence the 
survey, in which was included the bluff north end of Mount Saund- 
ers at N. 74* 55' E. Many foot-marks of men, dogs, and small kangu- 
toos were observed on the beach, but neither natives nor quadrupeds 
were seen. 

Early next morning a party of men was sent to cut wood, Monday 14. 
and the botanical gentlemen landed on Point Dundas upon their pur- 
suits ; I went to examine the north-eastern part of the bay, where 
the water extended two miles above the ship; but the depth in it pre- 
sently diminished to «i fathoms, and to 1 near the end. Beyond a 
low isthmus there, a piece of water was seen communicating with 
the south-eastern part of the bay, and making a peninsula of the high 
rocky land named Drimmie Head; at high water, indeed, it is an 
island, for the tide then flows over some parts of the isthmus. After 
taking two sets of bearings, I rowed southward along the shore of 
Drimmie Head ; and from a hill near the south-west extremity ob- 
tained a good view of the bay, and saw the western coast as far 
- northward as a cliffy cape which was named after William Wilber- 
Jorce f Esq., the worthy representative of Yorkshire. The principal 

• bearings from hence were, 

Cape Wilberforce, highest part, - N. 35* 40' W. 

Mount Bonner, - - - N. 51 55 W. 

Point Dundas, distant ajmiles, - - N. 52 30 W. 
Leaving Drimmie Head, I steered over to the middlemost of 

• the three rocks in the bay, With a depth of water from 3 to 6± fathoms, 
on muddy ground. These rocks lie nearly due south from Point 
Dundas, and I proposed. to observe the latitude on both sides from 

: thence, whilst lieutenant Flinders did the same at the point, that a 
base line for the survey might be obtained from the difference ; but 

Digitized by 


224 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

i8oa. the difficulty of finding a convenient position disappointed me, and 
Monday 14. no satisfactory base was obtained here ; so that the extent of this 
bay in the chart is rather uncertain. 

My course from the three rocks was directed S. S. E., for the 
south side of the bay ; the distance was three miles, and the depth 
for half the way from 5 to 3 fathoms; but afterwards shoal. Upon 
some low cliffs there, partly composed of pipe clay, a few bearings 
were taken ; and after walking a little way inland, to examine the 
country, I rowed back to a small island near the south extremity of 
Drimmie Head, with soundings mostly between 3 and 6\ fathoms ; 
but there is no ship passage between it and the head. Having taken 
some additional bearings and looked over the islet, I returned on 
board in the evening; passing in the way near a rock, dry at half tide, 
but round which, at a ship's length, there is s^ to 3 fathoms. 
Tuesday 15. Some further bearings and observations were taken on tha 15th, 

and my intention to sail on the following morning being frustrated 
by a fresh wind at north-west, with unsettled weather, Messieurs 
Wednes. I*. Brown and Bauer accompanied me in a boat excursion to the eastern 
part of the bay. We first landed at the islet near Drimmie*Head, 
that Mr. Brown might examine its mineralogy ; and then steered 
three miles eastward for a low projection covered with mangroves, 
growing on rocks of strongly impregnated iron stone. Coasting 
along the mangrove shore from thence northward, and after landing 
at one other place, we came to the isthmus which connects Drimmie 
Head to the land of Point Dundas ; and it being near high water, 
the boat was got over the isthmus by a small passage through the 
mangroves, and we reached the ship at one o'clock, where every 
thing was prepared for weighing the anchor. 

This bay is unnoticed in the Dutch chart, and I name it Mel- 
ville Bay, in compliment to the Right Hon. Robert Saunders Dundas, 
viscount Melville, who, as first lord of the Admiralty, has continued 
that patronage to the voyage which it had experienced under some 
of his predecessors. It is the best harbour we found in the Gulph 

Digitized by 


Melville Bay.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 225 

of Carpentaria ; the entrance is from the N. N. W., four miles wide, yJJJJJ, # 
and free from danger ; and within side, the sole dangers not con- 
spicuous, are a sandy spit running half a mile to the S. S. E. from 
Point Dundas, and the Half-tide Rock. This lies half a mile from 
the north-west part of Drimmie Head, and bears (true as usual), 

From the sandy hillock within Point Dundas, - S. 48 35' E. 

From Harbour Rock, - - - S. 10 39 E„ 

Melville Bay every where affords good holding ground, the „ 
bottom being either mud or sand ; and there is depth for a ship to 
run between the three rocks in the middle of the bay and Drimmie 
Head, and steer eastward until the head is brought to bear N. N. W., 
at the distance of one or two miles ; but the most cpnvienient anchor- 
age is just within the entrance, between Point Dundas and Harbour 
Rock, where a ship may lie close to the sandy beach in from 3 to 5 
fathoms. Even within the rock there is depth enough ; and were 
moorings laid down, four or five sail might swing there in perfect 
security. We obtained here fire wood, and a tolerable supply of 
fish ; and had water been wanted, it might have been obtained by 
digging at the foot of the small hills to the north-east of Harbour 
Rock, since a hole made there by the natives was found to contain 
good water. 

The stone on the north side of Melville Bay is a granitic com- 
position of quartz, mica, and coarse garnets ; the garnets are large, 
and give the stone a plum-pudding-like appearance, and when 
polished, it Would be beautiful : over the granite is a crust of cal- 
careous rock in many places. On the south side of the bay the stone 
is argillaceous, but frequently mixed with ferruginous grains ; and 
on the south-east side the rocks are of iron ore, of which a small . 
piece drew the fieedle of my theodolite .8* from the meridian. The 
bearings taken here were found to have been 50° wrong ; but too late 
to ascertain whether the error arose from the attraction of the shore, 
or from the needle having been placed at 310° by mistake, instead 

vol. 11. G g 

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22(5 A VOYAGE TO [JVor/A Coast 

PeiJSiy. There did not appear to be any rich soil on the borders of the 

bay ; but on the south and eastern sides the country was covered 
with an agreeable intermixture of grass and trees, and better adapted 
for cattle than any I have seen in so low a latitude. The soil, though 
not deep, would produce most things suited to the climate ; for the 
heat and moisture do so much for vegetation, that very little earth 
seems necessary to its support. On the south side the trees are 
mostly different species of eucalyptus, growing tall and straight, though 
not large ; whereas on the sandy parts of Point Dundas, a casuarina, 
of the same species as seen at Coen River and other parts of the 
gulph, was most abundant, and served us for fuel. A santalum, 
pore nearly allied to the true sandel wood than any before seen in 
this country, was found on the borders of the bay. 

No inhabitants were perceived, nor any fresh traces of them ; 
but as dogs were seen twice, it is probable the natives were watching 
us at no great distance; they had visited all the places where I 
landed, and should therefore seem to possess canoes. Traces of the 
same strangers, of whom mention has been so often made, were 
found here; and amongst others were partitions of frame work and 
part of a large earthen jar. Kanguroos appeared to be rather nume- 
rous in the woods, brown doves and large white pigeons were toler* 
ably plentiful, and a bird nearly black, of the size and appearance 
of a hen, was shot; there were also cockatoos, both black and white, 
and a beautiful species of paroquet not known at Port Jackson. The 
aquatic birds were blue and white cranes, sea-pies, and sand-larks. 
Besides fish, our seine usually brought on shore many of the grey 
slugs or sea cucumbers, but not so abundantly as in Caledon Bay. 

We were not here pestered so much with the black flies as before; 
but the musketoes and sand flies were numerous and fierce. Most 
of the bushes contained nests made by a small green ant; and if the 
bush were disturbed, these resentful little animals came out in squad- 
rons, and never ceased to pursue till the disturber was out of sight. 
' In forcing our way amongst the underwood, we sometimes got our 

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Oulph of Carpentaria.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA % 227 

, hair and clothes filled with them ; and as their bite is very sharp, jJJJJ- 
And their vengeance never satisfied, there was no other resource than 
stripping as expeditiously as possible. 

The sun was at this time very near the zenith, which not only 
prevented the latitude from being observed in the artificial horizon, 
but rendered the observations from the sea horizon, to the north and 
south at the same noon, liable to inaccuracies ; and in consequence, 
our positions in this neighbourhood may not be very correct. 
The latitude of Point Dundas, from one double 
observation, was ia° 13' 50"; but from the 
bearing of Mount Saunders, it is taken to be * ia° 13' o" S. 
Longitude by survey from Caledon Bay, being 

l' greater than by time keepers, - 136 41 40 E. 

Variation of the theodolite on Harbour Rock, 1 13 east. 

And except in the doubtful instance of the iron-stone shore on the 
. south-east side of the bay, the bearings in other parts did not differ 
more than 20' from it. 

The greatest rise of tide here, according to the marks on shore, 

did not seem to have exceeded eight feet. High water took place 

nearly five hours before, and seven hours after the moon's passage 

, over the meridian ; which is nearly two hours and a half earlier than 

. in Caledon Bay, as tha$ is earlier than in Blue-mud Bay, further 

. south in the gulph. 

At two in the afternoon of the 16th, the wind being moderate Wednes. 1$. 
at N. N. W ., we worked out of Melville Bay ; and anchored at dusk, 
five miles from the entrance m 13 fathoms, sand and -mud. Next 
, morning, in following the line of the western shore with a breeze ofFi^ursdayif, 
the land, we passed three rocks lying out from a point under Mount 
Bonner ; and further on, six or seven miles short of Cape Wilber- 
force, there was a small shallow opening. From the north part of 
this cliffy cape, a chain of islands and rocks extends out three or 
four leagues to the E. N. E., which I call Bromby's Isles, after my 
worthy friend the Rev. John Bromby of Hull. One of these is cliffy, 

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225 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803. an d two miles long; the rest are smaller, and the whole seemed to? 

February. ° 

Thursday 17. be connected by rocks under water; but between Cape Wilberforce 
and the nearest islet was a space three-quarters of a mile wide, 
towards which we worked up against a fresh wind at W. N. W. 
At noon, the two cliffy parts of the cape bore S. ^ E. and W. ± N., 
from one to two miles ; and the latter, which is the north extremity, 
was ascertained to lie in n # 52' south, and 136 33' east. 

At this time the weather became squally with much rain; but 
after numberless tacks, made under double-reefed top sails and 
courses in the narrow passage, with soundings from 10 to 18 fathoms, 
we cleared it at two o'clock, and stretched south-westward as the main 
coast was found to trend ; and thus was the examination of the 
Gulph of Carpentaria finished, after employing one hundred and five 
days in coasting along its shores and exploring its bays and islands. 
The extent of the Gulph in longitude, from Endeavour's Strait to 
Cape Wilberforce, is 5", and in latitude 7"; and the circuit, exclud r 
ing the numerous islands and the openings, is little less than foiir 
hundred leagues. It will be remarked that the form of it, given in 
the old charts, is not very erroneous, which proves it to have been 
the result of a real examination ; but as no particulars were known of 
the discovery of the south and western parts, not even the name of the 
author, though opinion ascribed it with reason to Tasman, so the 
chart was considered as little better than a representation of fairy 
land, and did not obtain the credit which it was now proved to have 
merited. Henceforward, the Gulph of Carpentaria will take its sta- 
tion amongst the conspicuous parts of the globe in a decided character. 

After clearing the narrow passage between Cape Wilberforce 
and Bromby's Isles, we followed the main coast to the S. W. ; hav- 
ing on the starbord hand some high and large islands, which closed 
in towards the coast a-head so as to make it doubtful whether there 
were any passage between them. Under the nearest island was 
perceived a canoe full of men; and in a sort of roadsted, at the south 
end of jhe same island, there were six vessels covered over like 

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English Company's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 229 

hulks, as if laid up for fhe bad season. Our conjectures were va~ ^JSSy. 
rious as to who -those people could be, and what their business Thursday \u 
here ; but we had little doubt of their being tjie same, whose traces 
had been found so abundantly in the Gulph. I had inclined to the 
opinion that these traces had been left by Chinese, and the report of 
the natives in Caledon Bay that they had fire arms, strengthened the 
supposition ; and combining this with the appearance of the vessels, 
I set them down for piratical Ladrones who secreted themselves 
here from pursuit, and issued out as the season permitted, or prey 
invited them. Impressed withf this idea, we tacked to work up for 
the road ; and our pendant and ensign being hoisted, each of them 
hung out a small white flag. On approaching, I sent lieutenant 
Flinders in an armed boat, to learn who they were; and soon after- 
ward we came to an anchor in 12 fathoms, within musket shot; 
having a spring on the cable, and all hands at quarters. 

Every motion in the whale boat, and in the vessel along-side 
which she was lying, was closely watched with our glasses, but all 
seemed to pass quietly ; and on the return of lieutenant Flinders, we 
learned that they were prows from Macassar, and the six Malay 
commanders shortly afterwards came on board in a canoe. It hap- 
pened fortunately that my cook was a Malay, and through his means 
I was able to communicate with them. The chief of the six prows 
was a short, elderly man, named Pobassoo; he said there were upon 
the coast, in different divisions, sixty prows, and that Salloo was the 
commander in chief. These people were Mahometans, and on look- 
ing into the launch, expressed great horror to see hogs there ; never- 
theless they had no objection to port wine, and even requested a 
bottle to carry away with them at sunset. 

The weather continued squally all night, with frequent heavy 
rain, and the wind blew strong; but coming offthfe islands, the ship 
rode easily. In the morning, I went on board Pobassoo's vessel, Friday is. 
with two of the gentlemen and my interpreter, to make further in- 
quiries; and afterwards the six chiefs came to the Investigator, and 

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A VOYAGE TO tNorth Coast 

mm. several canoes were along-side for the purpose of barter. Before 
Friday i& noon, five other prows steered into the road from the S. W M anchor- 
ing near the former six ; and we had more people about the ship 
than I chose to admit on board, for each of them wore a short dagger 
or cress by his side. My people were under arms, and the guns 
Were exercised and a shot fired at the request of the chiefs ; in the 
evening they all retired quietly, but our guns were kept ready and 
half the people at quarters all night. The weather was very rainy; 
Saturday 19. and towards morning, much noise was heard amongst the prows. 
At daylight they got under sail, and steered through the narrow 
passage between Cape Wilberforce and Bromby's Isles, by which 
we had come ; and afterwards directed their course south-eastward 
into the Gulph of Carpentaria, 

My desire to learn every thing concerning these people, and 
the strict look-out which it had been necessary to keep upon them, 
prevented me attending to any other business during their stay. 
According to Pobassoo, from whom my information was principally 
obtained, sixty prows belonging to the Rajah of Boni 9 and carrying 
one thousand men, had left Macassar with the north-west monsoon, 
two months before, upon an expedition to this coast ; and the fleet 
was then lying in different places to the westward, five or six toge- 
ther, Fobasspo's division being the foremost. These prows seemed 
to be about twoity**five tons, and to have twenty or twenty-five men 
in each ; that of Pobassoo— earried two small brass guns, obtained 
from the Dutch, but the others had only muskets ; besides which, 
every Malay wears a cress or dagger, either secretly or openly- I 
inquired after bows and arrows, and the ippo poison, but they had 
none of them ; and it was with difficulty they could understand what 
was meant by the ippo. 

The object of their expedition was a certain marine animal, 
called trepang. Of this they gave me two dried specimens ; and it 
proved to be the beche-de-mer, or sea cucumber which we had first 
seen on the reefs of the East Coast, and had afterwards hauled on 

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English Company's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. »1 

shore so plentifully with the seine, especially in Caledon Bay. They JJJJ. 

get the trepang by diving, in from 3 to 8 fathoms water ; and where 8*tuit% m. 

it is abundant, a man will bring up eight or ten at a time, The mode 

of preserving it is this : the animal is split down one aide, boiled, and 

pressed with a weight of stones ; then stretched open by slips of 

bamboo, dried in the sun, and afterwards in smoke, when it is fit 

to be put away in bags, but requires frequent exposure to the sun. 

A thousand trepang make zjricol, of about 125 Dutch pounds ; and 

one hundred picols are a cargo for a prow. It is carried to Timor, 

and sold to the Chinese, who meet them there ; and when all the 

prows are assembled, the fleet returns to Macassar. By Timor, 

seemed to be meant Timor-laoet ; for when I inquired concerning 

the English, Dutch, and Portuguese there, Pobassoo knew nothing 

of them : he had heard of Coepang, a Dutch settlement, but said it 

was upon another island. 

There are two kinds of trepang. The black, called baatoo, is 
•old 'to the Chinese for forty dollars the picol ; the white, or grey, 
called koro, is worth no more than twenty. The baatoo seems to be 
what we found upon the coral reefs near the Northumberland 
Islands ; and were a colony established in Broad Sound or Shoal- 
water Bay, it might perhaps cierive considerable advantage from the 
trepang. In the Gulph of Carpentaria, we did not observe any other 
than the koro, or grey slug. 

Pobassoo had made six or seven voyages from Macassar to this 
coast, within the preceding twenty years, and he was one of the 
first who Wme ; but had never seen any ship here before. This 
road was the first rendezvous for his division, to take in water pre- 
viously to going into the Gulph. One of their prows had been lost 
the year before, and much inquiry was made concerning the pieces 
of wreck we had seen ; and a canoe's rudder being produced, it was 
recognised as hiving belonged to her. They sometimes had skiiv 
mishes with the native inhabitants of the coast; Pobassoo himself 
had been formerly speared in the knee, and a man ha4 been slightly 

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332 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803. wounded since their arrival in this road : they cautioned us much to 


Saturday 19. beware of the natives.* 

They, had no knowledge of any European settlement in this 
country ; and on learning the name Port Jackson, the son of Pobas- 
soo made a memorandum of it as thus, ^~\ rOToT^^* writing 
from left to right. Until this time, that some nutmegs were shown 
to them, they did not know of their being produced here ; nor had 
they ever met with cocoa nuts, bananas, or other edible fruits or 
vegetables; fish, and sometimes turtle, being all they procured. I 
inquired if they knew of any rivers or openings leading far inland, 
if they made charts of what they saw, or used any charts ? To 
:all which Pobassoo answered in the negative. There was a river at 
Timor, into which the ship could go; and he informed me of two 
turtle islands, one of them not far to the north-west of our situa- 
tion in the road ; the other would be seen from the mast head as 
we sailed along the shore. 

I could find no other nautical instrument amongst them than a 
very small pocket compass, apparently of Dut<jh manufacture ; by this 
their course is directed at sea, without the aid of any chart or astro- 
nomical observation. They carry a month's water, in joints of bam- 
boo ; and their food is rice, cocoa nuts, and dried fish, with a few 
fowls for the chiefs. The black gummotoo rope, of which we had 
found pieces at Sir Edward Pellew's Group, was in use on board 
the prows; and they said it was made from the same palm whence 
the sweet sirup, called gulak, is obtained. 

My numberless questions were answered patiently, and with 
apparent sincerity ; Pobassoo even stopped one day longer at my de- 
sire, than he had intended, for the north-west monsoon, he said, 

* A question suggests itself here : Could tlie natives of the west side of the Gulph pf 
Carpentaria have learned the rite of circumcision from these Malay Mahometans ? From 
the short period that the latter had frequented the coast, and the nature of the iuter- 
tourse between the two people, it seems to me very little probable. 

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English Company's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRAL1S. 23S 

would not blow quite a month longer, and he was rather late. I p, 1 ?** 3 ' 
rewarded his trouble and that of his companions with several pre- Saturday 1*. 
sents, principally iron tools, which they seemed anxious to possess; 
and he b&gged of me an English jack, which he afterwards carried 
at the head of his squadron. He also expressed a desire for a letter, 
to show to any other ship he might meet ; and I accordingly wrote 
him a note to captain Baudin, whom it seemed probable he might 
encounter in the Gulph, either going or returning. 

So soon as the prows were gone, the botanical gentlemen and 
myself proceeded to make our examinations. The place where the 
ship was anchored, and which I call Malay Road, is formed by two 
islands: one to the S. W., now earned Pobassoo's Island, upon which 
was a stream of fresh water behind a beach ; the other to the north, 
named Cotton's Island, after captain Cotton of the India directory. The 
opening between them is nearly half a mile wide ; bit the water being 
shallow, the road is well sheltered on the west side, and the oppo- 
site" main coast lies not further off to the east than three miles ; so 
that N. E. is the sole quarter whence much swell can come. I landed 
upon Cotton's Island ; and ascending a high cliff at the south-east 
*nd, saw Mount Saunders and the northernmost Melville Isle over 
the land of Cape Wilberforce. Cotton's Island extends six or seven 
milesjo the north, and beyond it, to thenorth-east, was another large 
bland, which I called JVigram's, whose south-east part is also a high 
cliff.' Further off were two small isles; and at a greater" distance 
another, named Truant Island, from its lying away from the rest. 
Pobassoo's Island intercepted my view to the S. W. ; but on mow 
ing back to a higher station, two other islands wei*e seen over it, 
close to each other ; t^ the furthest and largest I gave the name of 
Inglis, and to the nearer that of Bosanquet. In the west also, and 
not more than three miles distant, was an island of considerable size, 
which was distinguished by the name of Astell. The general trend- 
ing of all these i5lands is nearly N. E. by E., parallel with the line 
%of the maingoast andof Bromby's Isles, In the Dutch chart,if they .: 
vol. u. H h 

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284 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast, 

i^os. be marked at all. it is as main land, and without distinctive appella- 


Saturday 19. tion; I have therefore applied names to each, mostly after gentlemen 
in the East-India directory ; and in compliment to that respectable 
body of men, whose liberal attention to this voyage was useful to 
us and honourable to them, the whole cluster is named the English. 
Company's Islands. 

Amongst the bearings taken from the south-eastern cliff of 
Cotton's Island, the following were most essential to the survey. 

Ship at anchor, distant i~ miles, - S. 41 50' W. 

Mount Bonner, - - .- S. 21 12 E. 

Mount Saunders, north end, - S. 47 52 E. 

Cape Wilberforce,N.W. cliff, - N. 74 15 E. 

Bromby's Isles, the largest, - N. 66° 39' to 69 39 E, 

Wigram's Island, - • N. 41 45 to 15 40 E. 
Moved S. 52^° W. one-third mile. 

Furthest part of the main land; - - S.49 5W, 

Inglis' Island, N. E. cliff, - - - - S. 53 30 W. 

Bosanquet's I., N. W. extreme - S. 6g 5 W. 

The Dutch chart contains an island of great extent, lying off: 
this part of the North Coast ; it has no name in Thevenot, but in. 
spme authors bears that of Wessel's or Wezel's Eylandt, probably: 
from the vessel which discovered Arnhem's Land in 1636 ; and from 
the south ^nd of Cotton's Island distant land was seen to the N. W.^ 
which I judged to be a part of it ; but no bearings could be taken 
a^ this time, from the heavy clouds and rain by which it was: 

From the 19th to the 22d, the weather was frequently rainy,, 
with thunder and lightning ; and the wind blew strong in squalls, 
generally between the north and west, and made it unsafe to move 
the ship. During these days, the botanical gentlemen over-ran the 
two islands which form Malay Road ; and I made a boat excursion 
to Astell's, and another to the north end of Cotton's Island, to sound 
Tuetiby 92. and take bearings for the survey. In the latter excursion, three black 

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JBngtish Company's Islands.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA £35 

children were perceived on the north-east beach; and on walking jjjjjj^ 
that way we saw two bark huts, and an elderly man was sitting under Tuesday 2* 
,a tree, near them* He smiled on finding himself discovered, and went 
^behind a bush, when a confused noise was heard of women ind chil- 
dren making off" into the wood; the man also retreated up the hill, 
•and our friendly signs were ineffectual to, stop him. In one of the 
huts was a net bag, containing some pieces of gum, bone, and a 
broken spike nail ; and against a neighbouring bush were standing 
three spears, one of which had a number of barbs, and had been 
wrought with some ingenuity. This I took away ; but the rest of the 
drms, with the utensils and furniture of the huts, consisting of the 
aforesaid net bag and a shell to drink out of, were left as we found 
them, with the addition of a hatchet and pocket handkerchief. 

Cotton's, Pobassoo's, and Astell's Islands, to which our exa- 
minations werp limited, are moderately high, woody land ; they 
slope, down nearly to the water on their west sides, but on the east, 
and more especially the south-east, they present steep cliffs ; and 
ithe same conformation seemed to prevail in the other islands. The 
etone of the upper parts is grit or sand-stone, of a close texture ; 
but the lower part of the cliffs is argillaceous and stratified, splitting 
in layers of different thicknesses, from that of a shilling to two or 
.three feet ; and the strata dip to the westward, about 15 . On break- 
ing some pieces out of the cliffs, I found them curiously marked • 
with* the representation of flowers and trees, owing, as I am told, to 
manganese or iron ore inserting itself partially into the fissures. The 
layers are of a reddish colour, resembling flat tiles, and might, I 
congeive, be used as such, almost without any preparation ; there 
are enough of them to cover a whole town, and the sand stone at 
the top of the cliffs is equally well calculated for building the walls 
% pf the houses. 

The upper surfaces of these islands are barren; but in the 
vallies, down which ran streams of water at this time, therd is a 
tolerable soil. One of these vallies, at the south end of Cotton's 

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238 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

i8os. Island, might be made a delightful situation to a college of monks, 
who could bear the heat of the climate, and were impenetrable to the 
stings of musketoes. Here grew the wild nutmeg, in abundance, 
the fig which bears its fruit on the stem, two species of palm, and a 
tree whose bark is in common use in the East for making ropes ; 
besides a variety of others, whose tops were overspread with creeping 
vines, forming a shade to the stream underneath. But this apparently 
delightful retreat afforded any thing rather than coolness and tran- 
quillity : the heat was suffocating, and the musketoes admitted not 
of a moment's repose. 

Upon Pobassoo's Island, near the stream of water at the back 
of the beach, Mr. Good, the gardener, planted four of the cocoa 
nuts procured from the Malays ; and also some remnants of pota- 
toes which were found in the ship. 

The latitude of Malay Road, from two not very 

satisfactory observations, was - 1 1° 53^.8. 

Longitude by the survey froirf Caledon Bay - 136 97 E, 
From observations made on shore in the artificial horizon, the 
time-keeper N\ 520 was differing from its Caledon- Bay rate, 15/% 
of longitude per day, to the east, but N°. 543 only gf',8 ; and when 
the longitude of this last is corrected by the proportion afterwards 
found necessary, it will agree with the survey to less than half a mile. 
• No observations were taken for the variation of the compiasa, 

but I judge it to have been about i p east, when not affected by any 
local attraction. Near the north-east end of Cotton's Island, and at 
the south-west point, the variation was »° more east than upon the 
south-east head; as if the south end of the island attracted the north 
* point, and the north end the south point of the needle. 

On the day of the new moon, a particular observation was 
made upon the tide in Malay Road ; and it was high water at ten 
minutes past eight in the morning, or nearly eight hours and a quarter 
after the moon had passed the lower meridian ; and the ris£ was ten 
feet two inches. There were two tides in the day ; but from the 

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English Cdfopany's Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 28? 

swinging of the ship in the road, it appeared that the last of the ebb, i8os. 


as well as the whole of the flood, came from the N. E. ; an irregu- 
larity which might be caused by the shallow passage between the 
two islands. 

The weather was still squally on the 23rd, but in the afternoon Wednw. as. 
became liner; and at three o'clock we steered south-westward, 
between the islands and the main, with a flood-tide in our favour and 
ihe whale boat sounding a-head. All the points of the main coast, 
like the western sides of the islands, are low and rocky, and they are 
bordered with reef; but we had tolerably good soundings, from 20 
to 7 fathoms, in passing along them at the distance of a mile. At 
dusk in the evening we came to, in 5 fathoms muddy ground, in a 
place much like Malay Road ; it is formed by Inglis' and Bosan- 
quet's Islands, and except in a space between them, of half a nrfle 
wide, we had land at various distances all round. 

Inglis' Island forms here a pretty looking cove, in which is a 
woody islet. . In the morning I sounded the cove; and finding it to "nrowdays^ 
be shallow, went on, accompanied by the landscape painter, to take 
bearings from the steep north-east head of the island. From thence 
the main coast was visible four leagues further, extending in the 
same south-western direction ; at the end of it was an island of con- 
siderable elevation, which I named Mallison's Island, and west of* it 
another, with land running at the back. The bearings which most 
served to prolong the survey, were these : 

Pobassoo's I. , east cliff, in a line with Malay Road, N. 55* o' E. 

Moved back S. 53 W. £ mile. 
Mallison's I., steep south-east head, - - S. 38 25 W. 

, outer of two rocks on the north-west side, S. 48 47 W. . 

We had not brought any provision in the boat; but -Inglis' 
Island appearing^to terminate three or four miles further on, I hoped 
to make the circuit, and reach the ship to a late dinner. An Indian 
followed along the shore, inviting us by signs to land ; but when 
the boat's head was turned that way, he retreated into the wood 

Digitized by 


238 A VOYAGE TO - [North Coast. 

isos. an d we h a d no ti m f e t follow, or to wait his pleasure to come down : 


Thursdays*, for a good deal of delay had been caused by the tide, and the island 

* was found to extend several miles further than was expected, to 

another steep head, from which I was desirous to obtain a set of 

bearings. At five o'clock, when we reached the head it rained fast, 

which deterred me from attempting the steep ascent, and we pushed 

onward ; but the island, instead of terminating here, extended four 

*miles further in a west direction, to a low point, where sunse. and 

• the bad weather obliged us to stop for the night. No wood could 

be found to make a fire, nor had we any tent ; and from the rain, 

the cold, and musketoes, and our want of dinner, the night passed 

* Uncomfortably. 

Friday as. At day-light, I took bearings from the low south-west point, 

whilst Bongaree speared a few fish. 

Mallison's I., the high south-east head, bore S. 1 1 # 10' E. 

— -, west extreme - - S. ii 30 W. 

A probable island, dist. 5 miles, S. 47*50' W. to West 
The main coast was close at the back of, and perhaps joined the 
Probable Island ; and to the south of it were other lands, apparently 
insulated, between which and Mallison's Island was an opening of 
four miles wide, which I marked for our next anchorage. 

Bongaree was busily employed preparing his fish, when my 
bearings were concluded. The natives of Port Jackson have a preju- 
dice against all fish of the ray kind, as well zs against sharks ; and 
whilst they devour With eager avidity the blubber of a whale or 
porpoise, a piece of skate would excite disgust. Our good natured 
Indian had been ridiculed bly the sailors for this unaccountable 
whim, but he had not been cured ; and it so happened, that the fish 
he had speared this morning were three stnall rays and a mullet 
This last, being the most delicate, he presented to Mr. Westall and 
me, so soon as it was cooked; and then went to saunter by the 
water side, whilst the boats' crew should cook and eat the rays, 
although, having had nothing since the morning before, it may be 

Digitized by 


English Company's Islands]- TERRA AUSTRALIA 289 

supposed he did not want appetite. I noticed this in silence till the p™ 03- 
whole were prepared, and then had him called up to take his portion Friday s*/ 
of the mullet ; but it was with much difficulty that his modesty and 
forbearance could be overcome, for these qualities, so seldom ex- 
pected in a savage, formed leading features in the character of my 
humble friend. But there was one of the sailors also, who preferred 
hunger to ray-eating ! It might be supposed he had an eye to the 
mullet ; but this Was not the case. He had been seven or ^eight 
years with me, mostly in New South Wales, had learned many of 
the native habits, and even imbibed this ridiculous notion respecting 
rays and sharks ; though he could not allege, as Bongaree r did, that 
" they might be very good for white men, but would kill him." The 
mullet accordingly underwent a further division ; and Mr. Westall 
and myself, having no prejudice against rays, made up our propor- 
tion of this scanty repast from one of them. > 

We rowed northward, round the west end of IngUs' Island, 
leaving a hummocky isle and a sandy islet to the left ; but on coming 
to a low point with a small island near it, the rapidity of the flood 
tide was such, that .we could not make head way, and were obliged 
to wait for high water. I took the opportunity to get another sqt 
of bearings, and then followed the example of the boats* crew, whp, 
not finding ; oysters or any thing to eat, had fallen asleep on the 
.beach to forget the want of food. 

It was high water at eleven o'clock, and we then passed 
between the islet and sandy point, and across two rather deep bights 
in IngbV Island ; and leaving three rocks and as many small islands 
on the left hand, entered the passage to the west of the ship, and 
got on board at two in the afternoon. 

This island is twelve miles long, by a varying breadth of one 
to three miles. Its cliffs and productions are much the same as those 
of. Cotton's Island; but in the south-eastern part it is higher, and 
thfe size and foliage of the wood announced more fertility in the soil. 

The construction of my chart, and taking bearings from the 

Digitized by 


240 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

Fcb^ nort h en d °f Bosanquet's Island, occupied me the next day ; astro- 
Saturday 26. nomical observations were also taken; and it appeared that the cliffy 
east end of Bosanquet's Island, a mile north of the anchorage, was 
in 11° 57j south, and 136 19' east. According to the swinging of 
the ship in the evenings, the flood tide ceased to run at eight hours 
and a half after the moon passed the upper meridian, whereas in the 
mornings it ceased seven hours and a half after the moon passed 
below ; whether the same difference took place in the times of high 
water by the shore, I cannot tell ; but if the mean of the morning's 
and evening's tides be taken as the time of high water, it will fol- 
low eight hours after the moon, the same nearly as in Malay Road. 
Sunday «7. ' In the morning of the 27th, we steered south- westward be- 

tween Inglis' Island and the main, to explore the opening on the 
west side of Mallison's Island. The tide, which was in our favour, 
so stirred up the soft mud, that we did not perceive -a shoal until 
from 4^, the depth diminished to «£ fathoms, and the ship stuck fast. 
This was at less than a mile from the north-east head of Inglis' 
Island, yet the deepest water lay within; and towards noon, by car- 
rying out a stream anchor, we got there into 10 fathoms, without 
Monday 28; having suffered any apparent injury. On the approach of low water 
next morning, we resumed our course, keeping nearly mid- way be- 
tween the main coast and the island, with soundings from 13 to 7 
fathoms, muddy ground ; the shores are above two miles, asunder, 
but the reefs from each side occupy more than half of the open space. 
On clearing the south end of the passage, the boat a-head made 
signal for 4 fathoms, and we tacked, but afterwards followed till 
noon ; heavy rain then came on, and the wind dying away, an anchor 
was dropped in 6 fathoms. % 

There was a rippling not far from the ship, and the master 
found it to be on a narrow shoal extending north and south, which 
seems to have been formed in the eddy of the tides. We got under 
way, on a breeze from N. W. bringing finer weather ; and at two 
o'clock passed over the shoal with soundings twice in 3 fathoms, 

Digitized by 


Jrnhem Bay:'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 241 

and afterwards in 5, 7, 10, 12, and 14. The bearings taken in 5 rsos. 
fathoms were, MonSJw. 

Inglis' Island, north-east head, 

■ low south-west point, 

Tuesday b 

Mallison's L, high south-east head, 
At six o'clock we entered the opening, and steered south-eastwa 
into a vast piece of water where the land could not be seen from the 
mast head ; and the soundings were deep, though irregular, varying 
from 1 1 to 33 fathoms. At half past eight, being well within the 
opening, we tacked towards Mallison's Island, and came to an anchor 
in 15 fathoms, sand and shells. 

In the morning, our- distance from the south side of the island ^March. 
was found to be something above a mile, and the extremes bore 
N. 64 W. to 39 E. In going to the shore with a party of the gen- 
tlemen I carried a, good depth all the way, there being 5 fathoms 
within a few yards of a little beach where a stream of fresh water 
descended from the hills. A first view of the cliffs- led me to think 
they contained coals ; but this appearance arose from the colour of 
the slate, of which the lotoer parts are composed, The top of the 
island is "of sand stone, similar to the English Company's Islands; 
and it seemed to be equally, or more barren than .they, and to be 
- destitute of any rich vallies.. 

My bearings were taken on the south-eastern head ; but even 
from thence, the land was not visible to the southward beyond* a low 
islet surrounded with shoals, and to the' E. S, E. it was but faintly 
seen. The west side of the entrance was composed of broken lagd, 
like islands, extending out far to the northward; on the east, the 
space which separated Mallison's Island from the nearest part of the 
main seemed to be not more than half a mile broad, and was so filled 
with rocks as scarcely to admit the passage of a boat. This part of 
the main land is a projecting cape, low .withdut side but forming a 
steep head within ; and I have named it Cape Newbald. The most- 
essential bearings were these; — r « 

vol. il. Li 

Digitized by 


442 # A VOYAGE TO [North Coa*t. 

isos; Inglis* I. station on the north-east head, N. 39 5' E. 

Tuesday 1. ■ west extreme, - - N. 15 10 w. 

Furthest western land visible, * ' N. 26 10 W. 

Probable Island, low north point, - N. 39 a W. 

Low islet up the bay, dist. ten mites, -v3. f° to 9 13 E. 
These bearings and the observations place the south-east hefcd of 
MallisonVIsland in la* 11 £' south, and 136 6 8' east. 

We returned on board at eleven, and then steered eastward 
along the South side of Cape Newbald ; the flood tide, which set in 
that direction, having induced the hope of finding a river there. The 
wind was light and scant, so that we advanced principally by means 
of the tide ; and finding it to run against u$ at five in the evening, 
anchored in 5 fathoms, mud and shells, eight or nine miles above 
the entrance of the bay, and one and a half from a rocky point oft 
Wednes.2. the Cape- Newbald side. We proceeded with the flood tide, next 
morning, in a varying depth frdm 3 to 5 fathoms; and after advanc- 
ing four oi* five miles, it was found impossible to go further without 
risk of getting aground, and we therefore came to an anchor. The 
land on the east side of the bay was distant three miles, and no other 
thaft a shallow opening in the north-east corner could be seen ; a 
disappointment which left litfte to be expected in the southern parts 
of the bay, to which no set of tide had been perceived. In conse- 
quence, I gave uf) the intention of further prosfecuting the examina- 
tion in the ship, in favour of going round irt my boat ; and directed 
lieutenant Fowler, so soon as the botanical gentlemen should have 
explored the productions on the nearest part of Cape Newbald, to 
return with the ship to the entrance of the bay, and anchor near 
some low cliffs on the western side, where the botanists could again 
pursue their researches until my arrival. 

Mr. Bauer the rtatural-history painter, himself a good botanist, - 
expressed a wish to accompany me, and with Mr. Bell, the surgeoh, 
we went off in the afternoon, steering S. S. E. for a small beach in 
the low, woody shore, five or six miles off. Squalls of wind with 

Digitized by 


Arnhem Bay. 7 ] TERRA AUSTRALIA 24? 

heavy rain prevented sounding in the first half of the way ; but we 18 °3- 
then had nine feet, and nearly the same to the beach, where we.Wedneg. % 
landed at dusk. The wood was very thick here, the ground swampy, * 
and the musketoes numerous and fierce ; so that between them and 
our wet clothes we had very little rest. 

In the morning, after bearings had been taken from a project- Thursday *; 
ing part of the iron-stone shore, we steered four miles to the S. S. W., 
mostly in s fathoms, to some low cliffs of red earth ; where Mr, 
Bauer examined the productions of the m^in land, whilst I took beaiv* 
ings from a small islet or bank of iron ore, lying near it. 

The ship at anchor, dist. 8 or 9 miles, bpre N. i° 15' E. 

Mallison's I., south-western cliffs, - N. 50 25 W. 

Low islet in the bay, centre, - S. 89 go W. 

Seeing that the shore took a western direction about five miles 
further on, we steered for the low islet ; and at a mile from the 
land had 3, and afterwards 5 fathoms until approaching a long sandy 
spit, which extends out from the east end of the islet and was then 
dry. I landed upon it in time to observe the sun's meridian altitude, 
which gave ia° 22' 6" south, but a passing cloud deprived me of the 
supplement. The islet is little else than a bed of sand, though 
covered with bushes and small trees ; there were upon it many marks 
of turtle and of turtle feasts ; and finding the musketoes less numerous 
than on the main, we stopped to repose during the heat of the day. 
In the afternoon, after taking bearings, we steered over to the 
south side of the bay, four miles off, with soundings from 7 at the 
deepest, to g fathoms at a mile from the iron-stone shore. The 
land is low and covered with wopd, and the traces of kanguroo being 
numerous, the surgeon was induced to make a little excursion into 
the wood, whilst I took bearings and Mr. Bauer pursued his botanical 
-researches. Mr. Bell found the country to be tolerably fertile, but 
had no success in his hunting ; and at night we returned to the islet to 
sleep, hoping to procure some turtle ; but no more than three came 
on shore, and one only was caught, the laying season appearing to 
tbe mostly past. > 

Digitized by 


244 A VOYAGE TO INorih-CoMi, 

1803. At daylight we steered for a low rocky island, seven or eight 

Friday 4. miles to the W. N. W., where I took angles from the iron-stone rocks 
at its south end, and Mr. Bauer examined the vegetable productions. 
To the S. S. W., about five miles, was a woody point, on the east 
side of which no land was visible; and the depth of water in coming 
across from Low Islet having been as much as 10 fathoms, it left a 
suspicion that a river might fall into the south-west corner of the 
bay, and induced me to row over to the point. The soundings 
diminished from 5 to 3 fathoms ; in which depth the boat being 
brought to a grapnel, I found the latitude to be 12 20' 27", from 
observations to the nQrth and south, and set Low Islet E. 7 S. by a 
pocket compass. 

From thence to the point the water was shallow, and the open 
space proved to be a shoal bight, with very low land at the back. 
After I had taken bearings, to ascertain the position of the point and 
form this side of the bay; we returned northward, passing on the 
west side of the rocky island; and the ship having arrived at the 
appointed station, got on board at eight o'clock in the evening. 

On laying down the plan of this extensive bay, I was some- 
what surprised to see the great similarity of its form to one marked 
near the same situation in the Dutch chart. It bears no name ; but 
as not a doubt remains of Tasman, or perhaps some earlier navigator, 
having explored it, I have given it the appellation of the land in which 
it is situate, and call it Arnhem Bay. So far as an extent of secure 
anchoring ground is concerned, it equals any harbour within my 
knowledge ; there being more than a hundred square miles of space 
fit for the reception of ships, and the bottom seemed to be every 
where good. Of the inducements to visit Arnhem Bay, not much can 
be said. Wood is plentiful at all the shores, and the stream which 
ran down the hills at Mallison's Island would have supplied us con- 
veniently with water, had it been wanted; but in three months after- 
wards it would probably be dried .up. In the upper parts of the bay 
the shores are low, ahd over-run with mangroves in many places ; 
but near the entrance they may be approached by a ship, and there 

Saturday 5. 

Digitized by 


Arnhem Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 24« 

•are beaches for hauling the seine, where, however, we had not much i. 803 - 

We saw no other stone on the low shores than iron ore, similar 
to that found in the upper part of Melville Bay, and on Point Middle in 
Caledon Bay ; and it seems probable, that iron runs through the space of 
country comprehended between the heads of the three bays, although 
the exterior shores and the hills be either granitic, argillaceous, or 
of sand stone. The flat country where the iron ore is found, seems 
to afford a good soil, well-clothed with grass and wood, much superior 
to that where granite or sand stone, prevails; this I judge from what 
was seen near the heads of the bays, for our excursions inland vyere 
necessarily very confined, and for myself, I did not quit the water 
side at Arnhem Bay, being disabled by scorbutic ulcers on my feet. 

This country does not seem to be much peopled, though traces 
men of were found wherever we landed ; in the woods were several 
species of birds, mostly of the parrot kind, and the marks of kan- 
guroo were numerous, as at Melville Bay. These circumstances 
would be in favour of any colony which might be established in the 
neighbourhood ; but should such a step come to be contemplated, it 
•would be highly necessary, in the first place, to see what the country 
is in the dry season, from June to November ; for it is to be appre- 
hended that the vegetation may then be dried up, and the sources of 
fresh water almost entirely fail. 

The middle of the entrance into Arnhem Bay is in latitude 
12 # 1 1' south, and longitude 136 3' east. Azimuths taken on board 
the ship, when at anchor in the north-eastern part of the bay and 
the head E. by N., gave o° 48' east variation, which corrected to the 
meridian, would be 2 31' east; but the most allowed to the bearings 
on shore is i° 46', and the least i°, no greater difference being pro- 
duced by the iron stone upon which some were. taken. From ge- 
neral observation, the time of "high water was nearly the same as in 
Malay Road, or about eight hours after the moon's passage, and the 
rise seemed to be six or eight feet. 

Digitized by 


246 A VOYAGE TO {North Coatl. 

1803. Before noon of the 5th we quitted Arnhem Bay, and steered 

Saturday* 5. northward along the chain of islands extending out from the west 
side of the entrance. On approaching the north end of Probable 
Island the soundings diminished to 4 fathoms, and a short tack was 
made to the S. E.; and the flood tide becoming too strong to be 
stemmed with a light breeze, an anchor was dropped in 17 fathoms, 
sand and stones. A dry reef had been set from Mallison's Island, 
and should have lain about two miles S. E. from this anchorage; but 
it was not seen from the ship, being probably covered by the tide. 
There were two natives, with a canoe, under Probable Island; and 
some others were standing on the beach ; but no attempt was made 
to approach the ship, nor did I send on shore to them. 
Sunday *• In the morning we had a moderateJbreeze at E. S. E., and pur- 

sued the line of the main coast and islands to the northward at the 
distance of three or four miles, with soundings from 10 to 17 fathoms. 
Both the coast and islands are in general so low and near to each 
other, that it was difficult to say whether some were not connected ; 
at eleven, however, we approached two which certainly w r ere islands, 
and there being a clear passage between the surrounding reefs of a 
mile and a half wide, we steered through it with la to 17 fathoms. 
The north-easternmost, which I have named after captain Cunning- 
ham of the navy, is four or five miles in circumference, and of moderate 
elevation; and lies in 11 47' south and 136 6' east by the survey. 

A third chain of islands commences here, which, like Bromby's 
and the English Company's Islands, extend out north-eastward from 
the coast. I have frequently observed a great similarity both in the 
ground plans and elevations of hills, and of islands in the vicinity of 
each other ; but do not recollect another instance of such a likeness 
in the arrangement of clusters of islands. This third chain is doubt- 
less what is marked in the Dutch chart as one long island, and in 
some charts is called Wessel's Eylandt ; which name I retain with 
a slight modification, calling them Wessel's Islands. They had 
been seen from the north end of Cotton's Island to reach as far as 

Digitized by 


WesseTs Islands.'] TERRA AUSTRAIJS. 247 

thirty miles out from the main coast ; but this is not more than half J 803 - 


their extent, if the Dutch chart be at all correct. Sunday %. 

At noon, when Cunningham's Island bore from S. i° to 26 E., at 
the distance of two miles, the furthest visible part of Wessel'S 
Islands bore N. 53 E. ; it was not distant, for the weather was 
squally with rain, and both prevented us from seeing far and obscured, 
the sun. To the westward, we had land at the distance of three or ' 
four miles ; and from its north-east end, which is named Point Dale, 
three small isles with rocks extended out to the bearing of N. 
i6 # E., which we could not weather without making a tack. At 
three they were passed ; and at six in the evening the outer islet 
bore S. 14°E., four leagues, and the most western part of the lartd 
of Point Dale, S. 36° W. ; but whether this last were an island or a 
part of the main, was still doubtful. 

For the last several days the wind had inclined from the east- 
ward^and at this time blew a steady breeze at E. by S., with fine 
weather; as if the north-west monsoon were passed, and the 
south-east trade had resumed its course. We had continued the 
survey of the coast for more than one-half of the six months which 
the master and carpenter had judged the ship might run without 
much risk, provided she remained in fine weather and no acci- 
dent happened ; and the remainder of the time being not much more 
than necessary for us to reach Port Jackson, I judged it imprudent 
to continue the investigation longer. In addition to the rottenness 
of the ship, the state of my own health and that of the ship's com- 
pany were urgent to terminate the examination here ; for nearly all 
had become debilitated from the heat and moisture of the climate,-— 
from being a good deal fatigued, — and from the want of nourishing 
food. I was myself disabled by scorbutic sores from going to the 
mast head, or making any more expeditions in boats ; and as the 
whole of the surveying department rested upon me, our further stay 
was without one of its principal objects. It was not, however, with- 
out much regret that I quitted the coast ; both from its numerous 

Digitized by 


«8 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast 

1803. harbours and better soil, and its greater proximity to our Indian 
Sunday 6* possessions having made it become daily more interesting ; and also, 
after struggling three months against foul winds, from their now 
being fair as could be wished for prosecuting the further examina- 
tion. The accomplishment of the survey was, in fact, an object so 
near to my heart, that could I have foreseen the tram of ills that 
were to follow the decay of the Investigator and prevent the survey 
being resumed, — and had my existence depended upon the expres- 
sion of a wish, I do not know that it would have received utterance r 
but Infinite Wisdom has, in infinite mercy, reserved the knowledge 
of futurity to itself, 
(Atfes, ^n quitting Wessel's Islands, we steered a north-west course- 

Plate 1.) a n night, under easy sail ; having a warrant officer placed, at the 
look-out, and the lead hove every quarter of an hour. The sound- 
Monday 7. ings increased very gradually till'daylight, when we had 30 fathoms ; 
and no land being distinguishable, the course was then altered to 
W. by S. Our latitude at noon was io° 56' 40", longitude by time- 
keeper 135 io' ; and I judged that part of the coast seen by lieu- 
tenant M c Cluer, in 1791, to lie about fifty miles to the southward. 
This was the first land seen by him in his course from New Guinea; 
and according to the comparison afterwards made of his longitude, 
it should not lie more than twelvd leagues from the western part of 
Point Dale. 

Mr. M c Cluer saw some islands near the coast, and amongst 
others an outer one called New Year's Isle, in latitude io°52 # south 
and 133 12' east, which I purposed to visit in the hope of procuring 
turtle. But our friendly trade wind gradually died away, and was 
succeeded by light airs from the N. W. and S. W., by calms, and 
afterwards by light winds from the north-eastward ; so that it was 
Saturday 12. not until daylight of the 1 2th, that the island was seen. At eleven 
o'clock, lieutenant Fowler went on shore to examine the beach for 
traces of turtle ; but finding none recent, he returned before two,, 
and we again made sail to the westward. 

Digitized by 


Towards Timor.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 24? 

New Year's Isle is a bed of sand mixed with broken coral, 1803 « 

# March. 

thrown up on a coral reef. It is four or five miles in circumference, Saturday is. 
and the higher parts are thickly covered with shrubs and brush 
wood ; but much of it is over-run with mangroves, and laid under 
water by the tide. Fresh prints of feet on the sand showed that the 
natives had either visited it very lately, or were then upon the island ; 
turtle also had been there, but their traces were of an old date. The 
reef extends about a mile off, all round ; we had 22 fathoms vefy 
near the outer edge, and saw no other danger. Broken land was 
perceived to the southward, probably the inner isles marked by lieu- 
tenant M c Cluer ; and six or sewen leagues to the S. W. was a part 
of the main, somewhat higher but equally sandy, which we traced 
above half a degree to the westward. I made the latitude of the 
island to be io° 55 1 south, and longitude by time keeper corrected 
133 4' east ; being 3' more south and 8' less east than Mr. M c Cluer's 
position. The variation of the compass, from azimuths taken twenty 
leagues to the east of New Year's Isle, was i° 55' east, with the 
ship's head W. N. W. ; and at thirteen leagues on the west side, 
i° 20' with the head N. W. ; these being corrected to the meridian, 
will be o° 23' and o° 12' east. The tide ran strong to the N. W. 
whilst it was ebbing by the shore, so that the flood would seem to 
come from the westward ; whereas in the neighbourhood of Cape 
Arnhem the flood came mostly from the opposite direction : 
whether this change were a general one, or arose from some opening 
to the S. E. of New Year's Isle, our knowledge of the coast was too 
imperfect to determine. 

We had continued to have soundings, generally on a muddy 
bottom, from the time of quitting Wessel's Islands ; ndr did they 
vary much, being rarely less than 95, and never more than 35*fa- 
thoms. On the 13th at noon we had 34 fathoms, being then in io° Sunday is, 
41' south and 132 40' east, and the coast still in sight to the south- 
ward. The winds then hung in the southern quarter, being some- 
times S. W., and L at others S. E., but always light ; and I steered 
vol. 11. K k 

Digitized by 


250 A VOYAGE TO [Mrth Cocut. 

1803. further off the land, in the hope of getting them more steady. Our 

Friday is. soundings gradually increased until the 18th, when the depth was 

150 fathoms in latitude g° 4/ and longitude 130* 17' ; at midnight 

Saturday 19. we had no ground at 160, but next morning the coral bottom was 
seen under the ship, and we tacked until a boat was sent a-head; from 
7 fathoms on the bank, the soundings in steering after the boat in- 
creased to 9, 10, 13, and suddenly to 92 fathoms. 

This small bank appeared to be nearly circular, and about four 
miles round ; it lies in latitude 9 $6' t longitude 129 28', and as I 
judge, about twenty-five leagues from the western extremity of the 
northern Van Diemen's Land. In some of the old charts there are 
shoals marked to a considerable distance from that cape ; and it 
seems not improbable, that a chain of reefs may extend as far out as 
the situation of this bank/ We afterwards had soundings at irregular 

Saturday te. depths, from 30 to 100 fathoms, until the evening of the 26th, in 
(Atiaa, io° 38' south and 126° 30' east ; ki which situation they were lost. 
The winds had hung so much in the south-west, and retarded 
our passage as well as driven us near to the island Timor, that I 
judged it advisable to'obtain refreshments there for my ship's com- 
pany ; under the apprehension that, as the winter season was fast 
advancing on the south coast of Terra Australis, the bacTstate of the 
ship might cause more labour at the pumps than our present strength 
was capable of exerting. Somje of the smaller articles of sea provi- 
sion, such as peas, rice, and sugar, which formed a principal part 
6f our little comforts, were also become deficient, in consequence of 
losses sustained from the heat and moisture of -the climate, and 
leakiness of the ship's upper works ; and these I was anxious to 

Coepang is a Dutch settlement at the south-west end of.Timor ; 
and the determination to put in there being made, I revolved in my 
mind the possibility of afterwards returning to the examination of the 
north and north-west coasts of Terra Australis, during the winter six 
months, and taking the following summer to pass the higher latitudes 

Digitized by 


Towards Timor.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 251 

and return to Port Jackson. There was little chance of obtaining salt I80S * 
provisions at Coepang, but there might be a ship or ships there, ca- Saturday s*» 
pable of furnishing a supply, and by which an officer might be con- 
veyed to England ; for it was a necessary part of my project to de- 
spatch lieutenant Fowler to the Admiralty, with an account of our pro- 
ceedings, and a request that he might return as speedily as possible, 
with a vessel fit to accomplish all the objects of the voyage ; and I 
calculated that six months employed upon the North and North-west 
Coasts, and the subsequent passage to Port Jackson, would not leave 
much more than the requisite time for refreshing the ship's com- 
pany before his arrival might be expected. It is to be observed, that 
the ship had leaked very little in ber sides since the caulking ddne at 
the head of the Gulph ; and the carpenter being now directed to bore 
into some of the timbers then examined, did not find them to have 
become perceptibly worse ; so that I was led to hope and believe that 
the ship might go through this service, without much more than 
common risk, provided we remained in fine-weather climates, as was 

On the 28th, being then in io° 36' south, and 125 47' east, Monday 2^ 
the high land of Timor was seen bearing N. 6i° W., at the distance 
of thirty, or perhaps more leagues ; but no soundings could be ob* 
taiited with 90, nor in the evening with 160 fathoms. Next day, the Tuesday 29. 
light south-west wind suddenly veered to S. E., and blew fresh ; 
and from its dying away at sunset was evidently a sea breeze atr 
tracted by the land, which, however, was forty miles offin its nearest 
part. Our latitude on the 30th was io° 37' 13", longitude 124° i8j', Wednea. so. 
and the land, mostly high mountains, extended from N. N. E. \ E. 
to W. N. W., the nearest part was distant seven or eight leagues, 
but we still had no soundings. The island Rottee is reckoned 
tolerably high land, but must be greatly inferior to Timor; since 
the round hill at its eastern end was not seen from the mast head 
till four this afternoon, when its distance was little more than fifteen 
leagues. We carried all sail for the strait between the two islands 

Digitized by 


252 A VOYAGE TO INorth Coast. 

iso3. till midnight, and then had soundings in 1 20 fathoms, muddy ground ; 
Wedue«. so, an hour and a half afterwards the land was close, and the depth no 

more than 10 fathoms, upon which we hauled off till morning. 
Thurs. si. At daylight, the north-east point of Rottee was distant two miles, 

and we steered along the shore, looking for boats and people tp 
obtain intelligence, and if possible some refreshments; but none 
were seen, although we passed close to a deep and well-sheltered 
cove. At ten o'clock, when the sandy north point of Rottee was 
distant one mile and a half, we hauled up north-eastward, across the 
passage of about six miles wide, between it and the northern lands ; for 
the purpose of entering Samow Strait, which was then open, and of 
(PL xviii, which Mr. Westall took the view given in the Atlas. The south- 
Jast View.) west ^^ Q f Timor j s surrounded by a reef, which extends from 
half a mile to a mite off, and runs some distance up the strait; both 
sides of the entrance are low land,*yet at eleven o'clock we had no 
ground between them with 75 fathoms. The width of the entrance 
is three miles and a half, and continues nearly the s,ame upwards, 
with a depth of 36 or more fathoms, and no dangers in it, other than 
the reef before mentioned. From the observations at noon, the ex- 
treme south-west point of Timor lies in io° 22' south, and longitude 
by survey back from Coepang, 123 29' east ; captain Cook places k in 
io° 23' and 123° 55', and calls it the south point, but there is a slop- 
ing projection, three leagues to the eastward, which I set in a line 
with it at E. 2* S. 

Two vessels were lying under the north-east end of Samow-; 
^ind on our ensign and pendant being hoisted, the one showed 
American, and the other Dutch colours. An officer was sent to them 
for information, as well of the propriety of going into Coepang Bay 
at this season, as of the political state of Europe ; for although the in- 
telligence of peace had arrived before we left Port Jackson, it seemed 
to be doubtful how long it might last. On his return with favour- 
able intelligence, I steered through the northern outlet of tlfe strait, 
which is not more than a mile and a half wide, but so deep that 65 

Digitized by 


Coepang Bay.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 253 

fathoms did not reach the bottom ; and at four o'clock the anchor i 803 - 


was let go in 17 fathoms, muddy ground, half a mile from the shore, TUurs. 31. 
with the flag staff of Fort ConcQrdia bearing S. S. E. 

I sent the second lieutenant to present my respects to the 
Dutch governor, and inform him of our arrival and wants, with an 
offer of saluting the fort provided an equal number of guns should 
be returned; and the offer being accepted, mutual salutes of thirteen 
guns passed, and the same evening we received a boat load of re- 
freshments. Next day, I went with three officers and gentlemen to ApriL 
wait upon Mynheer Giesler, the governor, who sent the commandant * 7 ' 
of the fort and surgeon of the colony to receive us at the water side. 
The governor did not speak English, nor I any Dutch; and our 
communications would have been embarrassed but for the presence 
of captain Johnson, commander of the Dutch brig, who interpreted 
with much polite attention. 

Coepang is dependant on Batavia for a variety of articles, and 
amongst others, for arrack, rice, sugar, &c. Mr. Johnson had ar- 
rived not long before with the annual supply, yet I found some diffi- 
culty in obtaining from the governor the comparatively small quan- 
tities of which we stood in need ; and I had no resource but in his 
kindness, for there were no merchants in Coepang, nor any other 
who would receive bills in payment. Having made an agreement 
fpr the provisions, I requested permission for our botanists and 
painters to range the country, which was readily granted ; with a 
caution not to extend their walks far from the town, as they might 
be there liable to insults from the natives, over whom the gover- 
nor had no power. 

We were occupied nearly a week in completing our water, 
which was brought on board in Malay boats, and in obtaining and 
stowing away the provisions. The governor, with captain Johnson Sunday 3. 
and two other gentlemen were entertained on board the Investigator, 
and received under a salute; and the day before we proposed to sail, Thuwday 7. 
I went with some of my principal officers and gentlemen to dine 

Digitized by 


264 A VOYAGE TO [At Timor. 

1803. w ith the governor, the fort firing a salute on our landing ; and it is 
Thursdays but justice to Mr. Giesler and the orders under which he acted, to 
say, that he conducted himself throughout with that polite and re- 
spectful attention, which the representative of one friendly nation 
owes to that of another. 

A part of the ship's company was permitted to go on shore so 
soon as our work was completed; and two men, my Malay cook 
and a youth from Port Jackson, being absent in the evening, the 
town was searched for them, but in vain. We got under way early 
Friday 8. next morning, before the sea breeze set in, and stood off and on 
until lieutenant Fowler again went after the men. On his return 
without success, we stretched out of the bay ; but the wind being 
light, and the governor having promised to send off the men, if 
found before the ship was out of sight, I still entertained a hope of 
receiving my deserters. 

Timor is well known to be one of the southernmost and largest 
of the Molucca Islands. Its extent is more considerable than the 
charts usually represent it, being little less than 256 miles in a north- 
eastern direction, by from thirty to sixty in breadth. The interior 
part is a chain of mountains, some of which nearly equal the peak 
of Teneriffe in elevation; whilst the shores on the south-east side 
are represented to be exceedingly low, and over-run with mangroves. 
Gold is said to be contained in the mountains, and to be washed 
down the streams- but the natives are so jealous of Europeans gain- 
ing any knowledge of, it, that at a former period, when forty men 
were sent by the Dutch to make search, they were cut off. In the 
vicinity of Coepang, the upper stone is mostly calcareous ; but the 
basis is very different, and appeared to me to be argillaceous. 

The original inhabitants of Timor, who are black but whose 
hair is not woolly, inhabit the mountainous parts, to which they ap- 
pear to have been driven by the Malays, who are mostly in posses- 
sion of the sea coast. There were formerly several Portuguese 
establishments on the north side of the island, of which Diely and^ 

Digitized by 


Coepang Bay.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 255 

Leffow still remained ; bat these have all gradually declined, and -J 8 **- 
the governor of Diely was now said to be the sole white Portuguese 
resident on the island. The Dutch territory at Coepang did not 
extend beyond four or five miles round Fort Concordia ; and the 
settlement affording no other advantage to the Company than that 
of keeping out other nations, it seemed to be following, with accele- 
rated steps, the ruin of their affairs. During the war which termi- 
nated in 1801, the communication toith Bate via was interrupted, 
and the town taken by the English forces ; an insurrection was raised 
by the half-cast people, and some of the troops left as a garrison 
were massacred, and the rest abandoned the island. During these' 
troubles the town had been set on fire ; arid at this time, all the best 
houses were in ruins. The few troops kept by the Dutch were 
mostly Malays, some of the officers even, being mulattos; and the 
sole person amongst them, who had any claim* to respectability, was 
a Swiss who had the command of Fort Concordia, but with no 
higher rank that that of serjeant-major. Besides the governor and; 
two or three soldiers, I saw only two European residents at Coepang; 
one w^s the surgeon of whom captain Bligh speaks so handsomely 
iri his narrative, the other a young gentleman named Viertzen, whtf 
had lately arrived. 

Coepang has little other trade than with Bdtavia. Sandel 
Wood, bees-wax; honey, and slaves, are exported; and rice, arrack, 
stagiar, tea, coffee, beetel nut, and the manufactures of China, with 
sortie from India and Europe, received in return ; and the duties 
upon these were said to sufficevthe expense of keeping up the estab- 
lishment. A Vessel laden with ammunition, clothing, and other 
supplies for the troops, is annually sent from Batavia ; but what 
may be called the trade of Coepang, is mostly carried on by the 
Chinese, some of whom are settled in the towh, and have intermixed 
with the Malays. 

Coepang Bay is exposed to the westward ; but from the be- 
ginning of May to the end of October, the anchorage is secure ; and 

Digitized by 



256 a VOYAGE TO [At Timor. 

there is little to apprehend from north-west winds after the middle 
of March, or before the middle of November; but the standing re- 
gulations of the Dutch company were, that until the first of May 
their vesssls should lie under the north-east end of Pulo Samow, 
about five miles from Coepang ; although Babao Road on the north 
side of the bay, of which Dampier speaks, was said to be a more 
secure and convenient anchorage. The commander of the American 
ship Hunter had gone under Samow, because he found the Dutch 
brig there ; and although assured there was almost nothing to be 
apprehended in the bay, he feared to come up till encouraged by 
our example. 

This ship was upon a trading speculation, and the commander 
was buying here sandel wood and bees-wax. For the best kind of 
wood he paid twenty dollars per picol, for the inferior sort thirteen, 
and seven dollars for the refuse; and bees- wax cost him twenty-five 
dollars. Upon all these he expected to make three hundred per 
cent, at Canton, besides the advantage of paying for them with cut- 
lasses, axes, and other iron tools, at an equally great advance ; he 
reported, however, that iron was still more valuable at Sdlor, Flores, 
and the neighbouring islands ; and that supplies of fresh provisions 
were njore plentiful. The usual profits of trade here, seemed to be 
cent, per cent, upon every exchange 1 ; and this the commander of the 
Hunter proposed to make many times over, during his voyage. At 
Solor he had bought some slaves for two muskets each, which 
muskets he had purchased at the rate of 18s. in Holland, at the 
conclusion of the war; these slaves were expected to be sold at 
Batavia, for eighty, or more probably for a hundred dollars indivi- 
dually, making about thirty capitals of the first price of his muskets. 
If such advantages attend this traffic, humanity must expect no weak 
struggle to accomplish its suppression ; but what was the result of 
this trading voyage? That the commander and his crew contracted a 
fever at Diely, and nearly the whole died before they reached Batavia. 

Spanish dollars were rated at 5s. 4d. according to the Dutch 

Digitized by 


Coepang Say.} TERRA AUSTRALIS, 25t 

company's regulations, but their currency at Coepang was* sixty J" 80 ?* 
stivers or pence; whence it arose that to a stranger receiving 
dollars, they would be reckoned at 55. %d. each, but if he paid them it 
was at 55. Besides dollars, the current coins were ducatoons, rupees, 
and doits, with some few gold rupees of Batavia ; but the money 
accounts were usually kept in rix dollars, an imaginary coin of $r. 

I made niarty inquiries concerning the Malay trepang fishers, 
whom we had met at the entrance of the Gulph of Carpentaria, 
and learned the following particulars. The natives of Macassar 
had been long accustomed to fish for the trepang amongst the 
islands in the vicinity of Java, and upon a dry shoal lying to the 
south of Rottee ; but about twenty years before, one of their prows 
was driven by the north-west monsoon to the coast of New Hol- 
land, and finding the trepang to be abundant, they afterwards re-» 
turned ; and had continued to fish there since that time. The 
governor was of opinion, that the Chinese did not meet them at 
Timor-laoet, but at Macassar itself, where they are accustomed to 
trade for birds nests, trepang, sharks fins, &c. ; 'and it therefore 
seems probable that the prows rendezvous only at Timor-laoet, on 
quitting Carpentaria, and then return in a fleet, with their cargoes. 

The value of the common trepang at Canton, was said to be 
forty dollars the picol, and for the best, or black kind, sixty; which 
agrees^ with what I had been told in Malay Road, allowing to the 
Chinese the usual profit of cent, per cent, from Macassar to their 
own country. 

About ten days before our arrival, a homeward-bound ship 
from India had touched at Coepang ; and had we been so fortunate 
as to meet with her, it might have enabled me to put in execu- 
tion the plan I had formed of sending an officer to England, and 
returning to the examination of the north and north-west coasts 
of Terra Australis. This plan was now frustrated ; and the sole 
opportunity of writing to Europe was by captain Johnson, wha 
expected to sail for Batavia in May, and promised to forward our 
letters from thence. I committed to his care an account of aur 
vol, iu LI 

Digitized by 


M8 A VOYAGE TO [At Timor, 

i8«. examinations and discoveries upon the East and North Coasts, for 


the Admiralty ; with the report of the master and carpenter upon 
the state of the ship, and the information I had obtained of the 
trepang fishery. 

Our supplies for the ship, procured at Coepang, were rice, 
arrack, sugar, and the palm sirup called gulah ; with fresh meat, 
fruit, and vegetables during our stay, and for ten days afterwards. 
The animal food consisted of young karabow, a species of buffalo, 
and of small pigs and kids ; the karabow being charged at eight, 
the pigs at five, and kids at two rix dollars each. Vegetables 
•were dear and not good, and for many of the fruits we were too early 
in the season ; but cocoa-nuts, oranges, limes, bananas, and shad- 
docks were tolerably plentiful. Tea, sugar candy, and some other 
articles for our messes, were purchased at the little shops kept by 
the Chinese-Malays ; and poultry was obtained along-side by barter, 
To judge from the appearance of those who had resided any 
length of time at Coepang, the climate is not good ; for even in com- 
parison with us, who had suffered considerably, they were sickly 
looking people. Yet they did not themselves consider the colony as 
unhealthy, probably from making their comparison with Bata via; 
but they spoke of Diely, the Portuguese settlement, as very bad in 
this respect. Captain Baudin had lost twelve men from dysentery^ 
during his stay at Coepang, and I found a monument which he had 
erected to his principal gardener ; but it was even then beginning 
to decay. 

The latitude of our anchorage, three-fifths of a 
mile to the north of Fort Concordia, was 
io° 8' a" from seven meridian altitudes of the 
sun ; but these being all taken to the north, 
I consider it to be more correctly, - io° 8£' S, 

Longitude of the anchorage and fort, from fifty 
four sets of lunar distances, of which the 
particulars are given in Table VII. of the 
Appendix No. I., - - - liff&'lP'E. 

Digitized by 


Coepang Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. £50 

Lieutenant Flinders took altitudes from the sea horizon, be- J 80 ?/ 


tween April 1 p. m. and 8 a. m., for the rates of the time keepers ; 
the mean of which, with the errors from mean Greenwich time at 
noon there on the last day of observation, were as under : 
Earnshaw's No. 543, slow a k sf 14",56, and losing iff',73 per day 
520, fast 1 57 19 ,28, -^ 33 ,99; 
the rate of No. 543 differing only o",s from that with which we 
had left Caledon Bay. The longitude given by this time keeper 
on April 1, p. m. 9 with the Caledon rate, was is&3 # 39' 8",4 east, 
or 3' 22" more than the lunars ; and when the Caledon rate is ac- 
celerated, the difference is only 2' gi" east. This quantity, if the 
longitudes of Caledon and Coepang Bays be correct, is the sum of 
the irregularities of No. 543, during the fifty-one days between one 
station and the other. The time keeper No. 520 had been let 
down on the passage, and its rate being now* more than 3" greater 
than at Caledon Bay/ its longitude was pot attended to at this time. 
In laying down the coasts and islands of Arnhem's Land, the 
bearings and observed latitudes were used, with very little reference 
to the time keepers; but No. 543, when corrected, did not differ so 
much from the survey as i' in twenty-five days. The rest of the 
track, from Wessel's Islands to Coepang, is laid down by this time 
keeper with the accelerated rate, and the application of ^ proportional 
part of 2' gi", its irregularity during fifty-one days. 
Variation: of the surveying compass, o 9 46' west, 
observed when the ship's head was E. S. E.,or 
corrected to the meridian, - o° 3/ east ; 

but this variation seems to apply only to Coepang Bay ; for about 
two degrees to the eastward it was i° 4' west, corrected, and onede<- 
gree to the south-west it was 1 41' west. 

The flood tide comes from the southward, through Samow 
Strait, and rises from three to nine or ten feet ; high water usually 
took place as the moon passed under and over the meridian, but the 
winds make a great difference both in the time and rise of the tide* 

Digitized by 


t60 A VOYAGE TO [From Timor. 


Departure from Timor. Search made for the Trial Rocks. Anchorage 
in Goose-Island Bay. Interment of the boatswain, and sickly state N 
of the ship's company. Escape from the bay, and passage through 
Bass 9 s Strait. Arrival at Port Jackson. Losses in men. Survey 
and condemnation of the ship. Plans for continuing the survey ; but 
preparation finally made for returning to England. State of the 
colony at Port Jackson. 

i8os. VV h e n we stretched out of Coepang Bay on the 8th of April, the 
Friday 8. wind was light from the westward ; in the afternoon we tacked to- 

Plate XVI.) war( fc Pulo Samow, hoping that a canoe seen under the land might 
have the two deserters cm board ; but this not being the case, they 
were given up. At six in the evening, when we stood off, the town 
of Coepang bore S. 6o f E., six or seven miles, and the north point of 
Samow distant one mile, with the north-west extremity behind it, 
S. 70* W. In this situation the depth was 74 fathoms, and soon after- 
wards 130 did not reach the bottom. 

During the night the breeze veered to the south ahd eastward, 

Saturday 9* and in the morning to north-east, and we coasted along the west 
side of Samow, four or five miles off, without getting soundings ; it 
is woody, hilly land, but not mountainous, and toward the south end 
is quite low. A woody islet, called Tios in the charts, lies off the 
south-west point, which is the sole thing like danger on the west side 


of Samow ; but the tides run strong here, and- make ripplings which 
at first alarm, from their great resemblance to breakers. 
Sunday io. It was evening on the loth before we had any regular wind ; 

it then sprung up from the southward, and at six, when we made sail, 

Digitized by 


Towards C. LeeutDin.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 261 

Samow, north-west point, bore • N. 48* E. JJjk 

Tios, dist. 5 miles, the south extreme, - S. 60 E. * Sunday 10. 

Rottee, furthest visible parts, - & 51^ E. to 18 W. 
The island Sauw, or Savu came in sight to the westward next morn- Monday 11. 
ing, and also a small isle called Douw or Dowa, lying off the west 
end of Rottee; at noon, when our latitude was io° 37' 22" and lon- 
gitude 122 35^', 

Savu bore from the mast head, - N. 76 to 88° W. 

Rottee, furthest visible parts, - S. 84 to 45 E. 

Dowa, distant ten miles, - S. 35 to 20 E. 

We tried for soundings with 230 fathoms of line, without finding 
ground; and it should appear that there is no bottom amongst these 
islands at any reasonable depth, unless very near the shores. 

The wind was still light ; and on the following day we had Tuesday it* 
rain, thunder, and lightning. Savu was seen in a clear interval . 
towards evening, bearing N. 3 W., and another piece of land, ap- 
parently Benjoar, was perceived from the mast head to the N. N. W. ; 
this was the last sight we had of these islands, for the breeze fresh- 
ened up from the eastward, and at noon next day our latitude was Wednea. is* 
12 20' south. 

Having been disappointed in procuring salt provisions and the 
means of sending an officer to the Admiralty from Coepang, I had 
necessarily given up the project of going back to the north coast of 
Terra Australis ; but since the decay of the ship did not appear to 
have advanced so rapidly as was expected, I judged there would not 
be much hazard in taking this opportunity of executingjthe article of 
my instructions, which directed me " to examine as particularly as 
" circumstances would allow, the bank which extends itself from the 
" Trial Rocks towards Timor/' Upon what authority the bank was (Atlas, 
thus described, I had no information ; but that it did not reach so far 
as either Timor or Rottee, was proved by our having passed the west 
end of the latter island and sounded with more than 200 fathoms 
without finding bottom. It seemed to me probable, that if such a 

Digitized by 


&& A VOYAGE TO [From Timaf, 

April* k 311 ^ ex ^ ste ^ anc * had any connexion to the north-east, it was more 
likely to be with the Sahul Shoal than with Timor ; and I therefore 
steered a course to get 'upon the line between the two; proposing 
afterwards to run westward, across the line of direction from the 
Rocks to Timor, so as in either case to fall in upon the bank. 

We sounded every two hours, and hove to three times a day, to 
Saturday ht get a greater depth; and in this way ran S. W. until the 16th at 
noon, to latitude i6 # 15' and longitude 11 6° 45', without finding 
bottom with from 100 to 240 fathoms of line. Our course was then 
Thuttday$i. W. by S., sounding in the same manner, until the 21st in the morn- 
ing, to latitude if 45' and lbngitude 107* 58', but equally without 
success as to the bank ; and I then hauled to the wind at S. 1L, in 
order to make the rocks themselves. 

The Trial Rocks obtained their namfe from tlie English ship 
Trial, which' was lost upon them in 1622 ; but their exact situation 
Seemed not to be well known. Mr. Dairy mple had published a 
/ Sketch of them upon the authority of a Dutch sloop, apparently sent 

from Batavia expressly for their examination ; and in this they are 
•*■ ' ' described to lie in 19 go' south, eighty leagues from the coast of 
New Holland ; but Arrowsmith in his large chart of the South Sea, 
laid the Trial Rocks down in 20° 40' south, and 104 30' east, or 
near double the distance from the coast. The soundings of two 
East-Indiamen near the rocks, given in the South-Sea chart, stamped 
this last position with an authority which decided my opinion in its 
favour, and I accordingly steered for it. 

Dull weather, with frequent heavy rain, thunder, and, light- 
ning, had prevailed from the time of leaving Coepang, and it pro- 
duced the same effect upon the health of the ship's company as 
similar weather had before done in the Gulph of Carpentaria ; for 
we had at this fime ten men in the sick list with diarrhoea, and many 
others were slightly affected. It seemed possible that the change of 
food, from salt provisions to the fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables of 
Timor, — a change by which I hoped to banish every appearance of 

Digitized by 


Towards C. Leemctn.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 2« 

scurvy, might have had an influence in producing the disease; and ***». 
if so, it was avoiding Scylla to fall upon Charybdis, and was truly 

At noon of the 23rd, we had reached the latitude so° 50', and Saturday 33. 
were in longitude 105 13' east, without having had soundings at 
100 fathoms ; I then steered a west course, lying to from eight in 
the evening till daylight; and at the following noon we observed in Sunday «4i 
so 49 south, and the longitude was 103 49' east. This was more 
than half a degree to the west of Mr. Arrowsmith's position, and we 
neither had soundings at 140 fathoms, nor any thing in sight to 
betoken the vicinity of land; I therefore ran N. W. to get somewhat 
to the north of the latitude so* 40', and at dusk hauled up to the 
wind, as near to east as the ship could lie, to make further search in 
that direction. 

On the 25th, some tropic birds were seen ; and the next day> Tuesday «6. 
when our latitude was 20 36' and longitude 104* 53', > there were 
several birds of the petrel kind about the ship; very vague signs of 
land, it is true, but still they gave us hopes; and once we were flat- 
tered with the appearance of breakers, and bore away for them, but 
it was a deception. We continued to stretch eastward all the next Weda*. *fi 
day; but the >Vind having veered from south to S/E., a good deal 
of northing was made with it; and having reached the latitude 19*53' 
and longitude 106 41', without finding bottom, or any more signs 
of land, I tacked to the S. S. W. and gave up the search. 

It should appear from our examination, that the Trial Rocks 
do not lie in the space comprehended between the latitudes «o° 15? 
and 21 pouth, and the longitudes 103° *g and 106 30' east. That 
they exist, does not seem to admit of a doubt, and probably they 
will be found near the situation assigned to them by the Dutch sloop; 
but no bank can extend in a line from thence at all near to Timor. 
The variations of the compass observed during our search for the 
Trial Rocks, were 3* west with the head N. W., 5 n' at E. by S., 
and 5 38' at E. S. E. ; and the mean, corrected to the meridian, 
will be 3 # 43' west, in ao° 33' south and 104 20' east longitude. 

Digitized by 


264 A VOYAGE TO [From Timor. 

1803. From the 27th of April we steered eight days to the S. S. W., 

mostly with south-eastern winds; they were sometimes light, but 
occasionally fresh, and at these times the ship made five inches of 
water in the hour. The diarrhoea on board was gaining ground, 
notwithstanding all the attention paid to keeping the ship dry and 
well aired, and the people clean and as comfortable as possible. 
Some of the officers began to feel its attack ; and in order to relieve 
them and the people, now that we had no expectation of meeting 
danger, I directed the ship's company to be divided into three watches, 
and put the officers, to four; giving Mr. Denis Lacy, master's mate,, 
the charge of acting lieutenant in the fourth watch. 

Thuwday 5, On May 5, in latitude 26* 24' and longitude 103 2 1', the south- 

east wind died away, and a breeze sprung up from the opposite 
quarter, which veered afterwards to the S. W., blowing fresh with 
sqqally, moist weather. Our course was then directed for Cape 
Leeuwin, with the wind usually a-beam ; the sea being too high for 
the ship to make good way any nearer.. In this passage we were 
accompanied by several petrels, and amongst them by the albatross, 
the first of which had been seen in the latitude 23? 

Friday is. On the 13th, we had reached the parallel of Cape Leeuwin, 

and were steering E. by S., to make it. At six in the evening, tried 
for soundings with 180 fathoms, without finding ground ; but after 
running S. 6y E. twenty-six miles, we had 75 fathoms, fine white 

Saturday 14. sand; and at daylight the land was seen, bearing N. 23 to 52°E. 
pjateTi.) about eight leagues. The soundings should therefore seem not to 
extend more than ten or twelve leagues to the west, or but little 
further than the land will be visible in fine weather. 

Our latitude at noon was 34° 43', and the land of Cape Leeu- 
win bore from N. 2 to 22* E. ; the uncorrected longitude of the time 
keepers from Timor made the cape four or five leagues to the east 
of the position before ascertained, but when corrected, the difference 
was too small to be perceptible. At six in the evening we had 40 
fathoms, coral bottom, at seven leagues from Point D'Entrecasteaux ; 
but the weather was too thick to take any bearings which might 

Digitized by 


Archip. of the Recherche.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 266 

improve my formeV survey. We steered along the coast at the dis- 1 **p3- 
tance of seven or eight leagues, with a fresh breeze and a strong 
current in our favour; and on the next day at noon I set land, which Sunday u. 
Tiad the appearance of Bald Head, at N. 31 W., distant about five 
leagues. Mount Gardner and Bald Island were distinguished in the 
afternoon ; but the land was visible at times only, from the haziness 
of the weather. 

My intention in coming so near the South Coast, was to skitf 
along the outer parts of the Archipelago of the Recherche, which had 
before been seen imperfectly ; and to stop a day or two in Goose- 
Island Bay, for the purposes of procuring geese for our sick people, 
seal oil for our lamps, and a few casks of salt from the lake on 
Middle Island^ It was night when we approached the archipelago, Monday 16. 
and I therefore steered to make Termination Island, which is the 
outermost part; at four in the morning of the 17th, it was seen about Tuesday 17. 
two leagues to the N. E., and we had 62 fathoms on a bottom of 
white sand. Mondrain Island was set at daylight, and the positions 
of many other places were either verified or corrected, during the 
run to noon; at that time we had 45 fathoms, and a reef was seen 
which may probably be that marked Vigie, in the French chart, and 
* is the more dangerous from the sea breaking upon it only at times. 
No observation was obtained for the latitude, but it should be 34* 13' 
south, from the following bearings then taken. 

Western Twin, - - - N. 5°W. 

A nearer isle, surrounded with breakers, - N. 3 E. 

Cape Arid, top of the mount on it, - N. 53 E. 

Middle I., highest top of the mount, - N. 66± E. 

Douglas's Isles, two appearing in one, - N. 80 E. 

High breakers, distant 6 miles, - S. 42 E f 

At one o'clock, in steering for Douglas's Isles, a single breaker 

was seen right a-head of the ship, lying six miles N. E. £ N. of the 

former dangerous reef, and about eight from the isles, in a 

W. by S. j S. direction. We passed to the northward of it, having 

vol. 11. Mm 

Digitized by 


266 A VOYAGE TO [South Coast 

1 1 S 0S# no ground at 25 fathoms ; and as we approached to do the same by- 
Tuesday 17. the isles, Mr. Charles Douglas, the boatswain, breathed his last ; 
and I affixed his name to the two lumps of land, which seemed to 
offer themselves as a monument to his memory. We hauled up 
close along the east side of Middle Island with the wind at west ; 
and at six in the evening anchored in Goose-Island Bay, in 12 fa- 
thoms, fine sand, one-third of a mile from the middle rock, and 
nearly in a line between it and the north-east point of Middle Island. 
Wednes. is. In the morning, a party of men was sent to kill geese and 

seals upon the rocky islets to the eastward, and another upon 
Middle Island to cut wood and brooms. There was now so much 
more surf upon the shores of the bay than in January of the former 
year, that we could not land at the eastern beach, behind which lies 
the salt lake ; I therefore went with the master to the middle beach, 
and being scarcely able to get out of the boat from scorbutic sores, 
sent him to examine the lake and make choice of a convenient place 
few filling some casks ; but to my surprise he reported that no good 
• salt could be procured, although it had been so abundant before, that 
according to the testimony of all those who saw the lake, it would 
have furnished almost any quantity : this alteration had doubtless 
been produced by the heavy rains which appeared to have lately 
fallen. I caused a hole to be dug in a sandy gully, in order to fill 
a few casks of water, thinking it possible that what we had taken in 
at Timor might have been injurious ; but the water was too salt to 
be drinkable, although draining from land much above the level of 
the sea. This *may afford some insight into the formation of salt in 
the lake ; and it seems not improbable, that rock salt may be con- 
tained in some part of Middle Island. 

We remained here three days, cutting wood, boiling down seal 
oil, and killing geese ; but our success in this last occupation was 
very inferior to what it had been in January 1802, no more than 
twelve geese being now shot, whereas sixty-five had then been 
procured. Mr. Douglas was interred Upon Middle Island, and an 

Digitized by 


Archip. of the Recherche.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 26T 

inscription upon copper placed over his grave ; Williajn Hillier, one 18 °a- 


of my best men, also died of dysentery and fever before quitting the 
bay, and the surgeon had fourteen others in his list, unable to do any 
duty. At his well-judged suggestion, I ordered the cables, which 
the small size of the ship had made it necessary to coil between 
decks, to be put into the holds, our present light state permitting 
this to be done on clearing away the empty casks ; by this arrange- 
ment more room was made for the messing and sleeping places ; 
and almost every morning they were washed with boiling water, aired 
with stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar, for the surgeon considered 
the dysentery on board to be approaching that state when it becomes 

At daylight of'the sist, having a fresh breeze atN. W., we Saturday*!, 
prepared to depart, and hove short ; but the ship driving before the 
sails were loosed, and there being little room astern, a second bower 
was dropped and a kedge anchor carried out. This last not hold- 
ing after the bowers were weighed, a stream anchor was let go; 
and before the ship brought up, it was again necessary to drop th? 
best bower. At this time we wei% not more than a cable's length 
from the rocks of Middle Island; and the ship being exposed tp 
great danger with the least increase of wind, we got a spring on 
the stream cable and began to heave on the best bower. In the mean 
time the ship drove with both anchors a-head, which obliged me, on 
the instant, to cut both cables, heave upon the spring, and run up the 
jib and stay-sails ; and my orders being obeyed with an alacrity hot 
to be exceeded, we happily cleared the rocks by a few fathoms, and 
at noon made sail to the eastward. 

This example proved the anchorage in the eastern part of 
Goose-Island Bay to be very bad, the sand being so loose as not to 
hold the ship with two anchors, though the water was smooth and 
the wind not more than a double-reefed-top-sail breeze ; yet further 
westward, between Goose Island and the west beach, our anchor had 
held very well before. The most Secure situation should seem to 

Digitized by 


268 A VOYAGE TO [South CodH. 

j^ 3 - be off the east end of the middle beach, between it and the rock, 
in 4 or 5 fathoms ; but I cannot answer for the ground there being 
good, though to all appearance it should be the best in the bay. 

The latitude observed from an artificial horizon on the middle , 
beach was 34 5' 23" south ; and the longitude of the place of obser- 
vation, a little east of that before fixed by the time keepers from 
' King George's Sound, (Vol. I. p. 89), will be 123 9' 37",6 east. Mr. 
Flinders took three sets of altitudes between the 18th p. m. and 21st 
a. m., from which the rates of the time keepers, and their errors from 
Greenwich time at noon there of the 21st, were found to be as under \ 
Earnshaw's No. 543, slow 3 h 10' 5$",53 and losing 19" ,63 per day 
No. 520, fast 1 31 54 ,28 v - 34 ,07 

At the first observation, the longitudes deduced from the Coepang 
rates were, by 

No. 543>— 1*3* 88' 87", 5 <*st. 
No. 520,-123 25 22 ,5; 
the mean of which is 19' 52^,4 more than what I consider to be the 
true longitude ; but on using rates equally accelerated from those at 
Coepang to what were found abbve, the error becomes reduced to 
12' 11 ",6 east ; which is the sum of the apparent irregularity of the 
time keepers from April 8 to May 18, or in 40,2 days. The cor- 
rections applied to the longitude during the last passage, are therefore 
what arise from the equal acceleration of the rates, and from the 
proportional part of the 12' 11", 6 of irregularity ; and when thus 
corrected, the time keepers did not appear to differ at Cape Leeuwin 
and Mount Gardner more than i' from the longitude of the former 
Saturday 21. On clearing Goose-Island Bay we steered eastward, with 

cloudy weather and a fresh breeze which veered to S. S. W. A 
small round island, with two rocks on its north side, was discovered 
in the south-easterh part of the archipelago, and also a reef; nei- 
ther of which I had before seen, nor are they noticed by admiral 
D'Entrecasteaux. At 3 h 40' the following bearings were taken : . 

Digitized by 


N. 26 W. 


• May. 
Saturday SI, 

S. 19 W. 

S. 16 K 

N. 88 E. 

Towards Port Jackson.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 260 

Cape Arid, top of the mount, 

Cape Pasley, - 

Two south-east isles, 

Reef, distant 4 or 5 miles, 

Small round isle, dist. 4 or 5 leagues, 
We passed within three miles of the round isle at dusk, and 
saw no other danger near it than the two rocks, which are very dis- 
tinguishable ; the weather was squally, but as I cHd not expect to 
meet with any more dangers, we kept on, steering seven points from 
the wind all night, with the precaution of having a warrant officer 
at the look-oqt. In the way to Bass' Strait I wished to have com- 
pleted the examination of Kanguroo Island, and also to run along 
the space of main coast, from Cape Northumberland to Cape Ot way, 
of which the bad weather had prevented a survey in the former year ; 
but the sickly state of my people from dysentery and fever, as also 
df myself, did not admit of doing any thing to cause delay in our 
arrival at Port Jackson* 

In the afternoon of the 23rd, being in latitude 35 10' and Ion- Monday 2$. 
gitude 128° 54', the variation was observed with three compasses to pk te m.) 
be 4 58' west, when the ship's head was at magnetic east * r this cor- 
rected, will be i° 416' west, agreeing with the observations on each 
side of this longitude in sight of the coast. On the 26th, m 37 53' Thursdays 
south and 135* 48' east, with the head S. E. by E., the variation was 
!° 38' west, or i° 17' east corrected ; and in the same longitude at 
the head of Port Lincoln, we had found i° 39' east. This day James 
Greenhalgh, serjeant of marines, died of the dysentery ; a man 
whom I sincerely regretted, from the zeal and fidelity with which 
he had constantly fulfilled the duties of his situation. 

The winds continued to*blow strong, usually between South 
and W. S. W. ; but the ship did not at any time leak more than 
five inches an hour. On the 29th, when approaching Bass' Strait, 
the breeze died away, and after some hours calm sprung up from the Sunday aa. 
northward ; next day at noon, our latitude was 40 25^, longitude Monday so. 

/ Atlas« 

143 &> and we sounded with 98 fathoms, no ground, At two o'clock piate vl) 

Digitized by 


2T0 A VOYAGE TO - {South Coast. 

Jf»- the south end of King's Island was in sight ; and at 4* 40', when it 
Monday so. bore N. 5* to 35* E., a small island was seen from the mast head, 
bearing E. by S., which I at first judged must be Albatross Island ; 
but as no other could be seen more southward, it was probably the 
Black Pyramid of Hunter's Isles, discovered in the Norfolk sloop. I 
much wished to fix its relative situation to King's Island 2 but night 
coming on, the bearing of S. tf W., in which this pyramidal lump was 
set at ten o'clock with the assistance of a night glass, was the best 
• point of connexion to be obtained. The southern extremity of King's 
Island lies nearly in 40 7' south and 143° 53' east ; and by our run 
from 4 h 40' to ten o'clock, corrected for a tide setting to the south- 
westward, this lump of land, which I believe to have been the Black 
Pyramid, will be 29' or 30' of longitude more east : its latitude made 
in the Norfolk was 40^ 32' south. 

The wind blew fresh at north, and the ship could barely lie a 
course to clear Albatross Island, yet we passed without seeing it, 
though there was moonlight ; so that supposing it was the Black 
Pyramid we had set at ten o'clock, the tide, which I calculated to 
turn about that time, must have run strong to the N. E. Our least 
sounding between King's Island and Hunter's Isles was 28 fathoms, 
on red coral sand, nine or ten miles to the south, as I judge, of 
Reid's Rocks ; but they were not seen, nor have I any certain know- 
ledge of their position. They are laid down in the chart partly from 
the journal of lieutenant Murray, who saw them in going from the 
Bay of Seals to Three-hummock Island; but principally from a 
rough sketch of Mr. Bass, then commander of the brig Venus, who 
appears to have seen King's Island, Reid's Rocks, and the Black 
Pyramid, all at the same time. 

It was a great mortification to be thus obliged to pass Hunter's 
Isles and the north coast of Van Diemen's Land, without correcting 
their positions in longitude from the errors which the want of a time 
keeper in the Norfolk had made unavoidable ; but when I contem- 
plated eighteen of my men below, several of whom were stretched 
in their hammocks almost without hope, and reflected that the lives 

Digitized by 


Towards Port Jackson.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 2T1 

of the rest depended upon our speedy arrival in port, every other "° 3 * 
consideration vanished;. and I carried all possible sail, day and night, Monday sa 
making such observations only as could be done without causing 

At day break, land was seen from the mast head bearing Tuesday au 
S. W. by S., probably Three-hummock Island ; and at noon our 
Latitude observed was - * - - 39* 5y 

Wilson's Promontory, the S. W,. part, bore N. i6£ E. 
Curtis' largest Isle, the top, — - N. 51 E. 

Kent's Group came in sight in the evening; and a little before nine 
o'clock the centre of the larger isles was set at N. by E., when the 
Pyramid was distant four miles bearing S. £ W. At eleven, we 
passed sufficiently near to the new rock, lying four leagues to the 
E. S, E. of the group,, to hear the growling of the seals ; and land, 
apparently the Sisters, was distinguished soon afterward in the S. E^ 
but too imperfectly to be known. A set of bearings here would 
have been essentially useful in fixing the relative positions erf these - 
lands, which remained in some degree doubtful ; but I dared not lose 
an hour's fair wind to obtain them. 

On the 2nd of June we lost John Draper, quarter master, one June, 
of the most orderly men in the ship ; and it seemed to be a fatality, *"* y 
that the dysentery should fall heaviest on the most valuable part of 
the crew. The wind had then veered against us, to the N. E., as it 
had done the year before in nearly the same situation ; and it should 
seem that the direction of the coast influences it to blow either from 
N. E. or S. W. The weather was so hazy, that the hills at the back 
of the Long Beach were not seen till the evening of the $rd ; and oh 
the 4th they were still visible, about twenty leagues to the N. 31 W. Saturday 4* 
A fair breeze sprung up in the night ; and at noon next day, the land Sunday jl 
from Cape Howe northward extended from S. 65 to N. 72* W,, and 
a hill which appeared to be the highest of those behind Two-fold 
Bay, bore W. i°S. ; our latitude was then 37* 15', and longitude by 
time keepers 150* 44/ east. 

We steered a due north course, closing a little in with the 

Digitized by 


Bf« . A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. l a nd; at sunset Mount Dromedary bore N. 45 W., and at eight 

Monday*, next morning it was seen bearing S. 30 W., at the distance of 

Plate vni.) twenty leagues, although the weather was hazy. The shore was 

five miles off at noon, when the observe^ latitude was 35° 17'; the 

outer part of Cape George bearing N. 5s E., about eight miles, and 

the Pigeon House S. 77 W. We passed the cape at the distance of 

two miles, having then but light winds ; and at dusk, Bowen's Isle 

in the entrance of Jervis' Bay was set at N. 51 W. Hat Hill was 

abreast of the ship at noon next day ; but the wind had then veered 

Tuesday 7. to the northward, and we beat up until the following noon with 

Wednes.8. little advantage, our situation being then in 

Latitude observed, 

Longitude by time keepers corrected, 
Hat Hill bore r 
Saddle Hill, on Red Point, 
Point Bass, - 

North extreme, near C. Solander, 
Nearest shore, distant 8 or q miles, 
Whilst beating against this foul wind the dysentery carried off" 
another seaman, Thomas Smith, one of thoae obtained from governor 
King ; and had the wind continued long in the same quarter, many 
others must have followed. Happily it veered to the southward at 
midnight, we passed Botany Bay at three in the morning, and at 
Thursday 9. daybreak tacked between the heads of Port Jackson, to work up for 
Sydney Cove. I left the ship at noon, above Garden Island, and 
waited upon His Excellency governor King, to inform him of ouf 
arrival and concert arrangements for the reception of the sick at 
the colonial hospital. On the following day they were placed under 
Friday io# the care of Thomas Jamison, Esq., principal surgeon of the colony ; 
.from whom' they received that kind attention and care which their 
situation demanded ; but four were too much exhausted, and died in 
a few days. The first of them was Mr. Peter Good, botanical gar- 
dener, a zealous, worthy man, who was regretted by all. 

Lieutenant Murray had arrived safely with the Lady Nelson, 





s. 70; 


S. 53 


s. $$ 


N, 3 


N. r 7» 


Digitized by 


Pdrt Jackson^ TERRA AUSTRALIS. 273 

after a somewhat tedious passage from the Barrier Reefs ; he made isos. 
x himself an anchor of heavy wood on the coast, far fear of accident 
to his sole remaining bower, but fortunately had no occasion to use 
it. Besides the Lady Nelson, we found lying in Sydney Cove H. M. 
armed vessel Porpoise, the Bridge water extra-Indiaman, the ships 
Cato, Rolla, and Alexander, and brig Nautilus. The G£ographe 
and Naturaliste had not sailed for the South Coast till some months 
after I left Port Jackson to go to the northward, and so late as the 
end of December, captain Baudin was lying at King's Island in Bass' 
Strait ; it was therefore not very probable that he should reach the 
Gulph of Carpentaria by the middle of February, when I had finished 
its examination, nor even at the beginning of March, when the south- 
west monsoon would set in against him. 

We found also at Port Jackson Kir. James Inman (the present 
professor of mathematics 'at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth), 
wliom the Board of Longitude had sent out to join the expedition as 
astronomer, in the place of Mr. Crosley who had left us at the Cape 
of Good Hope. To this gentleman's care I committed all the larger 
astronomical instruments, and also the time keepers, after observa- 
tions had been taken to compare their longitudes with that of Cattle 
Point. The results obtained on the 1 oth a. m., with the Goose-island- 
JBay rates, were, 

From No. 543, - 151 18' 41" east. 

No. 52O, - 151 l6 2ft * 

Cattle Point having been settled in 151 n' 49" (see Vol. I. p. 267.), 
the mean error of the time keepers was 5' 42 ",5 to the east ; and as 
I have no means to form an accelerating correction to the Goose- 
island-Bay rates, the 5' &">5 of error has been equally apportioned 
throughout the twenty days between the two stations. 

In order to re-establish the health of the ship's company, I 

contracted for a regular supply of vegetables and fresh meat ; and 

such was the favourable change in the state of the colony in one 

year, that the meat, pork one day and mutton another, was obtained 

vol. 11. N n 

Digitized by 


2T4 A VOYAGE TO [Ea*t Cea$f. 

1803. a t the average price of lod. per pound, which before, if it could have- 
been obtained, would have cost nearly double the sum. On my 
application to the governor, the commissary was ordered to supply 
utj with two pipes of port wine ; and a pint was given daily to all 
those on board, as well as on shore, whose debilitated health was 
judged by the surgeon to require it. 

The arrangements being made which concerned the health of 
the ship's company, I inclosed to the governor the report of the 
master and carpenter upon the state of the ship when in the Gulplv 
of Carpentaria ; and requested that he would appoint officers to make 
a survey of her condition. A plank was ripped off all round, a little 
above the water's edge ; and on the 14th, the officers appointed by 
His Excellency made the survey, and their report was as follows : 

" Pursuant to an order from His Excellency 
Philip Gidley King, esquire, principal com- 
mander of His Majesty's ship Buffalo." 

" We whose names are hereunto subscribed, have been on 
board His Majesty's ship Investigator, and taken a strict, careful, and 
minute survey of her defects, the state of which we find to be as follows. 

One plank immediately above the wales being ripped off all 
round the ship, we began the examination on the larbord side for- 
ward ; and out of ninety-eight timbers we find eleven to be sound, so 
far as the ripping off of one plank enables us to see into them, ten of 
which are amongst the aftermost timbers. Sixty-three of the remain- 
ing timbers are so far rotten as to make it necessary to shift them ; and 
die remaining twenty-four entirely rotten, and these are principally in 
the' bow and the middle of the ship. 

On the starbord side forward we have minutely examined 
eighty-nine timbers, out of which we find only five sound ; fifty-six 
are bo far decayed as to require shifting, and the remaining twenty- 
eight are entirely rotten. The sound timbers are in the after part of 
the ship, and those totally decayed lie principally in the bow. 

The stem son is so far decayed, principally in its outer part, as 
to make it absolutely necessary to be shifted. 

Digitized by 


PortJaekson.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 2% 

As far as we could examine under the counter; both plank and 1 ? 03 - 
r . June, 

timbers are rotten, and consequently necessary to be shifted. 

We find generally, that the plank on both sides is so far decayed 
as to require shifting, even had the timbers been sound. 

The above being the state of the Investigator thus far, we think 
it altogether^ unnecessary to make any further examination ; being 
unanimously of opinion that she is not worth repairing in any coun- 
try, and that it is impossible in this country to put her in a state fit 
for going to sea. 

And we do further declare, that we have taken this survey witk 
such care and circumspection, that we are ready, if required, to make 
oath to the veracity and impartiality of our proceedings. 

Given under our bands on board the said ship in Sydney Cove, 
this 14th June 1803. 

(Signed) W. Scott, Commander of H. M. armed vessel Porpoise. 
E. H. Palmer, Commander of the Hon. East- India-Corn^ 

pany's extra ship Bridgewater. 
Thomas Moore, Master builder to the Territory of *New> 
South Wales." 

I went round the ship with the officers in their examination* 
and was excessively surprised to see the state of rottenness in which, 
the timbers were found. In the starbord bow there were thirteen 
close together, through any one of which a cane might have been 
thrust; and it was on this side that the ship had made twelve inches 
of water in an hour, in Torres' Strait, before the first examination. 
In the passage along the South Coast, the strong breezes were fron* 
the southward, and the starbord bow being out of the water, th$ 
leaks did not exceed five inches ; had the wind come from the north-* 
ward, the little exertion we were then capable of making at the 
pumps could hardly have kept the ship up ; and a hard gale from 
any quarter must have sent us to the bottom. 

The Investigator being thus found incapable of further service, 
various plans were suggested, and discussed with the governor, for 
prosecuting the voyage; but that Which alone could tie adQpM 

Digitized by 


276 A VOYAGE TO {Ea*t Coa$f. 

1803. without incurring a heavy expense to government, was to employ 
the armed vessel Porpoise ; and as this ship was too small to carry 
all my complement, with the necessary provisions, to put the re- 
mainder into the Lady Nelson, under the command of my second 
lieutenant. Both vessels were at this time required for a few weeks 
colonial service to Van Diemen's Land ; and my people not being 
in a state to fit out a new ship immediately, our final arrangements 
were deferred until their return. I took this opportunity of making 
an excursion to the Hawkesbury settlement, near the foot of the 
back mountains ; and the fresh air there, with a vegetable diet and 
medical care, soon made a great alteration in the scorbutic sores which* 

July, had disabled me for four months ; and in the beginning of July I 
returned to the ship, nearly recovered. The siok in the hospitaL 
were also convalescent, and some had quitted it; but one or two* 
cases still remained doubtful. 

On the 4th, the Porpoise arrived from Van Diemen's Land',* 
and I requested the governor would order her to be surveyed, that 
it might be duly known whether she were, or could be in a short 
time made, capable of executing the service which remained to be 
done. I had heard some reports of her being unsound ; and it 
seemed worse than folly to be at the trouble and expense of fitting- 
but a ship which, besides causing a repetition of the risk we had 
incurrred in the Investigator, might still leave the voyage unfinished. 
His Excellency, with that prompt zeal for His Majesty's service 
which characterised him, and was eminently shown in every thing 
wherein my voyage was concerned, immediately ordered the sur- 
vey to be made ; and it appeared that, besides having lost part of 
the copper which could not be replaced, the repairs necessary to 
make her iit for completing what remained of the voyage, could not 
be done in less than twelve months ; and even then this ship was,, 
from her small size and sharp construction, very ill adapted to this 
Service. Other arrangements were therefore suggested; and I 
received the following letter of propositions from the governor. 

Digitized by 


Part Jackson.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 27T 


Government House, Sydney, July 10, 1803. Jul y- 
S I R, 

I inclose the report of the survey on the Porpoise, and am 

much concerned that the repairs and alterations of that ship will re* 

quire so much time to complete her fit for the service you have to 

execute. This being the case, I can see no other alternatives than 

the following: 

1. To wait the Porpoise being repaired and refitted. 

2. To purchase the Rolla, and fit her. 

3. To take the Lady Nelson and colonial schooner Francis. 

4. Wait for the Buffalo's return from India, which will be 

about the next January ; or 

&. Return to England and solicit another ship to complete 
what you have so successfully begun. 

On the first point, you will be the best able to determine how 
far it would, be advisable to wait so long a time for the Porpoise's* 
repairs, nor do I think they can be completed in a less time here. 

The builder and your carpenter report to me, that the Rolla 
cannot be put into the least convenient state ter receive your estab- 
lishment, stores, and provisions, in less than six months It must 
also be considered that she grounded on the Brake, with a full cargo; 
from which cause, some defects may appear to render her useless 
in a shorter period than you can finish your voyage. Added to which; 
I do not consider myself justified in assuming the responsibility of 
giving £11 ,550. for little more than the hull, masts, and rigging of 
that ship ; nor will the master, as he informs me, take less. 

If you think the Lady Nelson and Francis schooner equal to 
execute what you have to finish, they are at your service. The latter 
being absent getting coals and cedar, I cannot say what state she 
may be in ; although she will require considerable repairs to make , 
her fit for a long voyage. 

The Buffalo is now inspecting the islands to the eastward of 
Java, to ascertain whether breeding stock can be procured among 
them. That service performed, she proceeds to Calcutta for % cargo 
of cows, and may be expected about January, when she may want 

Digitized by 


#8 A VOYAGE tO lEasi Coast. 

1803. some repairs, and of course fitting. It is my intention, if yon do not 

fix on her, to profit by your discovery in stocking this colony with 
breeding animals, by the safe and expeditious channel you have 
opened through Torres* Strait. 

If you do not consider waiting for the Porpoise's repairs advis- 
able, it is my intention to send her to England by a summer's pas- 
sage round Cape Horn ; which it is thought she may perform in her 
present state. But should you conceive it may ultimately forward 
the service you are employed on, to go to England in her, leaving 
this port when you judge proper, and taking the route most condu- 
cive to perfectioning any part of the surveys you have commenced ; 
I shall direct the commander of that ship to receive you and as many 
of your officers and people as can be accommodated, as passengers ; 
and to follow your directions and give you every assistance in every 
circumstance connected with the execution of the orders you have 
received from my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. 

You will, Sir, have the goodness to consider of the above; 
and whatever the result of your deliberation may be, I will most 
cheerfully give my concurrence and assistance; knowing that your 
zealous perseverance in wishing to complete the aerviee you have so 
beneficially commenced, could only be impeded by unforeseen and 
distressing circumstances ; but which I hope, for the benefit of 
science and navigation, will only be a temporary delay. 

I am, &c. 
(Signed), Philip Gidley King. 
Each of the plans proposed in the governor's letter were at- 
tended with one common disadvantage : a delay in the completion 
of the surveys. Against the last proposition there did not seem to 
be any other objection ; but the four first included so many more 
inconveniences and difficulties, either to the voyage, or to the colony, 
that I saw the necessity of concurring with the govenor's opinion ; 
notwithstanding the reluctance I felt at returning to England with- 
out having accomplished the objects for which the Investigator was 
fitted out. My election was therefore made to embark as a pas- 

Digitized by 



senger in the Porpoise ; in order to lay my charts and journals be- ^J 3 - 
fore the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and obtain, if such 
should be their pleasure, another ship to complete the examination 
of Terra Australis. The last service I gould render to the colony with 
the Investigator and my people, was to lay down an additional pair of 
moorings in Sydney Cove ; and that done, we left the ship as a store- 
house hulk on the 31st, and prepared for our voyage to England 

The Porpoise was commanded by Mr. William Scott, a senior 
master in the navy ; but he and the greater part of his people having 
expressed a wish to be discharged, it was complied with ; and the 
command was given to Mr. Fowler, first lieutenant Qf. the Inves- 
tigator, and another crew of thirty-eight men selected from the ship's 
company. In disposing of the other officers and people their several 
inclinations were consulted. The surgeon took his passage in the 
Bridg^water to Ipdia, the gunner remained charged with the care of 
the Investigator's stores, and Mr. Evans, master's mate, was left sick 
at the hospital ; Messrs. Brown, Bauer, and Allen stayed at Port . 
Jackson to prosecute their researches in natural history, until my 
arrival with another ship, or until eighteen months should expire 
without fheir having received intimation that the voyage was to be 
continued ; nine men were discharged at their own request, and 
the twenty-two remaining officers and men, including myself, em- 
barked in the Porpoise as passengers. 

Of the nine convicts who had been received into the Investi- 
gator, one had died ; another had behaved himself so improperly, 
that I could not recommend him to the governor ; and the remaining 
seven were fully emancipated by His Excellency from their sentence 
of transportation, their conduct having been such throughout, as to 
receive my approbation. Four of these were entered into the com- 
plement of the Porpoise ; but I am sorry to add, that the subsequent 
behaviour of two was different to. what it had been when their 
liberty was at stake, and that a third was condemned to the hulks 
not very long after he reached England. 

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280 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast 

1805. Being about to take leave of Port Jackson, it might be ex- 

pected that I should give some account of our colony there, and 
could this voyage have appeared in due time, a chapter would have 
been devoted to it ; but a much later account being now before the 
public, dispenses me from speaking of it in other than a few general 
terms. In 1803, it was progressively advancing towards a state of 
' independence on the mother country for food and clothing ; both 
the wild and tame cattle had augmented in a proportion, to make 
it probable that they would, before many years, be very abundant ; 
and manufactures of woollen, linen,' cordage, and leather, with 
breweries and a pottery, were commenced. The number of inhabit 
tants was increasing rapidly ; and that energetic spirit of enterprize 
which characterises Britain's children, seemed to be throwing out 
vigorous shoots in this new world. The seal fishery in Bass' Strait 
was carried on with ardour,— many boats were employed in catching 
and preparing fish along the coast,— sloops and schooners were 
upon the stocks,— various detached settlements were in a course of 
establishment, and more in project. And all this, with the com- 
merce carried on from Sydney to Parramatta and the villages at the 
head of the port, and to those on the rivers falling into Broken 
#nd Botany Bays, made the fine harbour of Port Jackson a lively 
«cene of business, highly interesting to the contemplator of the rise 
of nations. 

In Sydney and Parramatta, houses of stone or brick were 
taking place of wood and plaster ; a neat church was built in the 
latter, and one* commenced in the former place ; wharfs were con- 
structing or repairing, — a stone bridge over the stream which runs 
through the town of Sydney was nearly finished,— and the whiskey, 
chariot, and heavy-laden waggon were seen moving on commo- 
dious roads to different parts of the colony. In the interior the 
forests were giving way before the axe, and their places becoming 
every year more extensively occupied by wheat, barley, oat6, maize, 
and the vegetables and fruits of southern Europe ; but the follow- 

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ing extract from the official returns in 1803, the fifteenth year after "js- 
the establishment of the colony, will show its progress in a more 
ostensible manner. 
Lands employed by government, 
or granted to individuals - 1 85,476 acres. 

Quantity cleared of wood, - 


Ditto, sown with wheat, 

7,118 Last ann. increase 2,165 

Ditto, sown with barley, maize, &c. 


Average produce of wheat lands 

throughout the colony, 

18 bushels per acre. 

No. of horned cattle domesticated, 

2,447 last increase - 594 

Sheep, - - 

11,232 - - 2,614 


• 7,890 - - 3,872 


- 85* " 6 5 

The number of wild horned cattle was supposed to exceed that of 
the tame, and to increase faster. 

Europeans of every description, resident in New 

South Wales, - - - - 7,134 

Of which were victualled by government, - 3,026 
Number of inhabitants at Norfolk Island, - 1,200 

Amongst the obstacles which opposed themselves to the 
more rapid advancement of the colony, the principal were, the 
vicious propensities of a large portion of the convicts, a want of 
more frequent communication with England, and the prohibition to 
trading with India and the western coasts of South America,in con- 
sequence of the East-India-Company's charter. As these difficulties 
become obviated and capital increases, the progress of the colonists 
will be more rapid ; and if the resources from government be not 
withdrawn too early, there is little doubt of New South Wales 
being one day a flourishing country, and of considerable benefit 
to the commerce and navigation of the parent state. 
vol. 11. O o 

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*8i A VOYAGE TO [EattCwut. 


Of the winds, currents 9 and navigation along the east coast of Terra 
AustraliSy both without and within the tropic ; also on the north coast. 
Directions for sailing from Port Jackson, through Torres 9 Strait, to- 
wards India or the Cape of Good Hope. Advantages of this passage 
over that round New Guinea. 

On completing the first portion of the voyage, I entered into an 
explanation of the winds and currents which had b^en found to pre- 
vail upon the south coast of Terra Australis ; and to obtain greater 
perspicuity and connection, I there anticipated upon the second portion 
so far as those subjects required. This plan of assembling at the end 
of each book such general observations upon the coast immediately 
before examined as could not enter conveniently into the narrative, 
seeming liable to no material objection, I shall follow it here ; and 
conclude this second part of the voyage with a statement of the winds 
and currents which appear to prevail most generally along the East 
and North Coasts ; adding thereto such remarks, more particularly 
on Torres' Strait, as may tend to the safety of navigation. This 
statement will include the information gained in a subsequent pas- 
sage, for the reasons which influenced me in the former account ; 
and the reader must not be surprised, should he remark hereafter 
that I did not, in that passage, follow very closely the directions here 
given ; for besides that my information was then possessed only in 
part, the directions are intended, not for vessels seeking dangers, 
which was partly my object, but for those desirous only of navigating 
these distant shores with expedition and safety. 

The East Coast, with respect to winds and currents, requires 

Digitized by 


Winds and currents.] TERRA AJJfffRALIS. - 289 

a division, the part beyond the tropic of Capricorn being placed under (j Uh * 
different, and almost opposite circumstances, to that within, pr cloae 
to it. 

From Cape Howe, where the South Coast terminates and tbfc 
East commences, to Sandy Cape, within a -degree of the trppiq, the 
south-east trade most generally prevails in the summer season, from 
the beginning of October to the end of April; and produces sea and 
land breezes near the shore, with fine weather* There are however 
many occasional intermissions, especially in the southern parts, 
wherein gales from South or S. W., and strong breezes between North 
and N. E., bring heavy rain, with thunder and lightning; but these 
are Usually of short duration. A sultry land wind from the N. W. , 
in the summer, is almost certainly followed by a sudden gust from 
between S. E. and S. S. W., against which a ship near the coast 
rfiould be particularly guarded ; I have seen the thermometer de- 
scend at Port Jackson, on one of these occasions* from ioo° to 64* in 
less than half an hour. 

In the winter season, from May to September, the western: 
winds are most prevalent, and generally accompanied with fine 
weather; the gales then blow from the eastward, between north-e^st 
and south, and bring rain with them ; indeed there is no settled 
weather in the winter, with any winds from the sea, and even between 
north-west and north there is frequent rain, though the wind be 
usually light in those quarters. It is however to be understood, that 
the sea and land breezes in the summer are more regular near the 
tropic ; and that the winter winds partake more of the south-east 
trade than they do from latitude 30* to Cape Howe. 

It is a fact difficult to be reconciled, that whilst the most pre- 
vailing winds blow from S. E. in summer, and S. W. in winter, upon 
this extra-tropical part of the East Cbast 1 the current should almost 
constantly set to the south ; at a rate which sometimes reaches twa ^ 
miles an hour. Its greatest strength is exerted near to the points 
which project most beyond the general line of the coast ; but the 

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284 A VOYAGE TO [Eatt Coast. 

usual limits of its force may be reckoned at from four, to twenty 
leagues from the land. Further out, there seems to, be no constancy 
in the current; and close in with the shore, especially in the bights, 
there is commonly an eddy setting to the northward, from a quarter, 
to one mile an hour. It is in the most southern parts that the cur- 
**^ rent runs strongest, and towards Cape Howe it takes a direction to 
the eastward of south ; whereas in other places, it usually follows 
the line of the coast. 

This exposition of the winds and currents beyond the tropic, 
points out the advantage of keeping at not more than three or four 
leagues from the land, when sailing northward and intending to touch 
on the coast; but in the winter season this must be done with caution, 
because gales then often blow from the eastward. A marine barome- 
ter will here be of signal advantage. If the weather be tolerably fine, 
and the mercury do not stand above 30 inches, there is no probability 
of danger ; but when the mercury much exceeds this elevation and the 
weather is becoming thick, a gale is to be apprehended ; and a ship 
should immediately steer off, until it is seen how far the wind veers 
to blow dead on the coast. With respect to a rise and fall in the 
*• marine barometer, it may be taken as a general rule upon this East 

Coast, that a rise denotes either a fresher wind in the quarter where 
it then may be, or that it will veer more to seaward ; and a fall 
denotes less wind or a breeze more off the land ; moreover, the 
mercury rises highest with a south-east, and falls lowest with a 
north-west wind; and north-east and south-west are points of mean 


The shelter for ships which may be caught so suddenly as not 

to be able to clear the land, are these : Two-fold Bay, for vessels of 
four-hundred tons and under; Jervis and Botany Bays, Port Jackson, 
and Broken Bay; Port Hunter for brigs and small craft; Port 
Stephens ; Shoal Bay for vessels not exceeding fifty tons ; Glass- 
house Bay ; and lastly Hervey's Bay, by going round Break-sea 
Spit. All these places will be fopnd in Plates VI, VJII, IX, an4 £, 

Digitized by 


Winds and currents.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 286 

of the Atlas, with particular plans of the entrances to some of them. 
Directions for Port Jackson, and Botany and Broken Bays are given 
lay captain Hunter in his voyage ; and they may be found in Hors- 
burgh's East-India Directory, Part II, p. 46^—468. Two-fold Bay 
is described in the Introduction to this voyage, arid mention made of 
Jervis, Shoal, Glass-house, and Hervey 's Bays. 

A ship sailing along this coast to the southward, should not, 
to have the advantage of the current, come nearer than five or six 
leagues unless to the projecting points ; and if the distance were 
doubled, so as to have the land just in sight, an advantage would be 
found in it ; and such an offing obviates the danger of the gales. 

Whilst western winds prevail on the southern parts of the 
East Coast, the south-east trade blows with most regularity within, 
3nd close to the tropic, producing sea and land breezes near the 
shore,, and serenity in the atmosphere ; and the further we go north- 
ward the longer does this fine weather last, till, near Cape York, it 
♦commences with the month of April, probably even March, and 
extends to the middle or end of November. How the winds blow 
from November to April, I have no experience ; but there is great 
reason to believe that they come from the northward, and make the 
wet season here, whilst dry weather prevails beyond the tropic. In 
Broad Sound and Shoal-water Bay we had more northern winds 
than any other, in the month of September ; but these appeared to 
be altogether local, caused by the peculiar formation of the coast; 
for they did not bring any rain, though it was evidently near the 
end of the dry season, and we found the south-east trade wind be- 
fore losing sight of the land. 

The North Coast appears to have the same winds, with a little 
exception, as the tropical part of the East Coast. From March or 
April to November, the south-east trade prevails; often veering, 
however, to east, and even north-east, and producing fine weather, 
with sea and land breezes near the shore. At the head of the Gulph 
x>f Carpentaria, the north-west monsoon began to blow at the end of 

Digitized by 


280 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast.. 

November; but further westward, at the northern Van Diemen's 
Land, I apprehend it will set in at the beginning of that month, and 
continue till near the end of March. This is the season of heavy 
rains, thunder, and lightning, and should seem, from our experience, 
to be the sickly time of th$ year. 

It is* thought to be a general rule, that a monsoon blowing 
directly in from the sea, produces rain, and from off the land, fine 
weather, with sea and land breezes; this I found exemplified on the 
west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria, where the rainy north-west 
monsoon, which then came off the land, brought fine weather: the 
rain came with eastern winds, which set in occasionally and blew 
strong for two or three days together. It seems even possible; that 
x ' what may be the dry season on the North Coast in general, may be* 

the most rainy on the west side of the Gulph ; but of this I have doubts; 

According to Dampier, the winds and seasons on the north- 
west coast of Terra Australis are nearly the same as above mentioned 
upon the North Coast ; but he found the sea and land breezes, dur- 
ing the south-east monsoon, to blow with much greater strength. 

In speaking of the currents, I return to the tropical part of the 
East Coast. Within the Barrier Reefs, it is not the current, for there 
is almost none, but the tides which demand attention ; and these, so 
far as they came under my observation, have been already described, 
and are marked on the charts. At a distance from the barrier there 
is a current of some strength, at least during the prevalence of south- 
east winds ; but instead of setting southward, as I have described it 
to do from Sahdy Cape to Cape Howe, the current follows the direc-' 
tion of the trade wind, and sets to the north-west, with sotne varia- 
tion on either side, at the rate of half a mile, and from thence to one 
mile an hoUr. This I found to continue amongst the reefs of Torres' 
Strait, nearly as far as Murray's Islands ; but from thence onward 
through the strait, its direction in October was nearly west, some- 
thing more than half a mile ; and so continued across the Gulph of 
Carpentaria to Cape Arnhem , with a little incliiiation toward the south. 

Digitized by 


Winds and currents] TERRA AUSTRALIA. «8f 

Along the north coast of Terra Australis, the current seems 
to run as the wind blows. In March, before the south-east monsoon 
was regularly set in, I found no determinate current until the end of 
the month, when Timor was in sight, and if then set westward, three 
quarters of a mile an hour; but in the November following, I carried 
it all the way from Cape Arnhem, as captain Bligh had done from 
Torre*' Strait in September 1792 ; the rate being from half a mile 
to one mile and a quarter in the hour. 

The navigation along the tropical part of the East Coast, within 
the Barrier Reefs, is not likely to be soon followed, any more than 
that round the shores of the Gulph of Carpentaria ; nor does much 
remain to be said upon them, beyond what will be found in this Boojk 
II, and in the charts ; and in speaking of the outer navigation, my 
remarks will, be more perspicuous and useful if I accompany a ship 
from Port Jackson, through Torres' Strait; pointing out the courses 
to be steered, and the precautions to be taken for avoiding the 
dangers, ft is supposed that the ship has a time keeper, whose rate 
of going and error from mean Greenwich time have been found at 
Sydney Cove, taking its longitude at 151 n' 49" east; and tihat die 
commander is not one who feels alarm at the mere sight of breakers; 
-without a time keeper I scanfely dare recommend a ship to go throqgk • 
Torres' Strait ; and from timidity in the commander, perhaps more 
danger is to be anticipated than from rashness. The best season 
for sailing is June or July ; and it must not be earlier than March, 
nor later than the end of September. 

On quitting Port Jackson, the course to be steered is N. E. :by E. 
<by compass, to longitude about 155^°, when the land will be fifty 
% leagues off; then North, also by compass, as far as latitude 24 . 
Thus far no danger lies in the way ; but there is then the Cato's 
Bank,*, dry sand frequented by birds and surrounded with a reef, p^xA 
-and further northward is Wreck Reef, both discovered in the future 
part of this voyage. Wreck Reef consists of ^ix distinct patches of 
coral, extending twenty miles east and west; upon four of them • 

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208 A VOYAGE TO [Torres 9 Strait 

there are dry banks, also frequented by birds, and the easternmost 
bank is covered with wiry grass and some shrubs, and is called Bird 
Islet. Their situations are these : 

Cato's Bank 23 6' south, 155* 23' east 
Bird Islet - 22 n£ 155 27 

The bearing and distance of these dangers must be successively 
worked, and a course steered so as to leave them half a degree to the 
westward ; but for fear of an error in the time keeper the latitude 
23 20' should not be passed in the night. It is better to make short 
tacks till daylight, than to heave to ; and allowance should be made 
for a probable current of one mile an hour to the north-west. A 
good look-out must be constantly kept ; and a confidential officer 
should now go to the mast-head every two hours in the day and to» 
the fore yard at night, to listen as well as look ; for in dark nights 
the breakers may often be heard before they can be seen. It will 
not be amiss, if the time of the day be favourable, to make Bird 
Islet, which is well settled, in order to see how the longitude by 
time keeper agrees ; and should it err, the difference, or more, must 
be added to, or subtracted from its future longitudes ; for it is most 
probable that the error will continue to augment the s^me way, more 
especially if the time keeper be a good one. 
<AU. H. I.) Having passed Wreck Reef, there are no other known dangers 

near the route for Torres' Strait, till we come to Diana's Bank; but 
as others may exist, it will be prudent to lie to, or preferably to 
make short tacks in the night, during the rest of the passage to the 
Strait In light nights, however, and moderate weather, there would 
be not much risk in closely following the Cumberland's track, 
carrying no. more sail than will allow of the ship being conveniently 
hauled to the wind ; but if an unusual number of boobies and gannets 
be seen in the evening, there is strong suspicion of aJbank and reef 
being near ; and the direction which the birds take, if they all go one 
way as i? usual in an evening, will nearly show its bearing. The Ion* 
gitudeof Diana's Bank, according Bougainville, is i5i°i<>* 

Digitized by 


Sailing directions.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 289 

from Greenwich ; but his longitude at the New Hebrides, some 
days before, was 54/ too far east, according to captain Cook ; and it 
is therefore most probable, that 

Diana's Bank lies in 15 41' south, 150° 2^ east. 
I should steer, after passing Wreck Reef, so as to go a full 
degree to the east of this position ; and having so done, the next 
object of attention is the Eastern Fields, reefs which lie a degree (Atlas, 
from those where Torres' Strait may be said to commence. The te *' 
position to be worked is, 

Eastern Fields, north-east end, io° 2' south, 145 45' east ; 
and from this I would pass half a degree to the eastward. But if the 
Strait should be attempted without a time keeper, it will be advisable 
for a ship to make that part of New Guinea lying in about io # south 
and 147^* east, which* may be seen as far as twelve or fifteen leagues 
m clear weather; and havings corrected the dead-reckoning longitude 
by this land, to allow afterwards eighteen miles a day for a current 
setting to the W. N. W. The best latitude for passing- the Eastern 
Fields, is q° 45' to 50', steering a W. by S. course, by compass- and 
it will afterwards be proper, so long as there is daylight and no 
reefs seen, to carry all sail for the Pandora's Entrance, which is the 
best opening yet known to the Strait. It is formed by reefs, and is 
eleven or twelve miles wide, and lies, 

Pandora's Entrance, the middle, in 91*54' S-, 144 43' E. ; 
and it is very possible, if the Eastern Fields be passed in the morn- 
ing, to get through without seeing the breakers, and obtain a sight of 
Murray's Islands before dark. But it is most probable that reefs 
will be first met with ; and should the latitude of the ship be then 
uncertain, even to 3', the wind must be hauled until an observation 
can be had, for it is by the latitude alone that the first reefs can be 
distinguished one from the other. 

The reefs being in sight and the latitude known, a ship will 
steer for the Pandora's Entrance, if she can fetch it ; but if too much 
to the north, she may pass round the north end of Portlock's Reef^ 
vol. 11. P p 

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290 A VOYAGE TO [Torrei Strait. 

and haul up S. W. for Murray's Islands, which are visible eight or 
ten leagues from the deck in fine weather. ( See View No. 10 in Plate 
XVIII. of the Atlas.) It is best to approach these islands from the 
N. E. by N., following the Investigator's track, and to anchor the 
first night on the north side of the largest island, or otherwise under 
the reefs which lie to the north-east ; but if neither can be reached 
before dark, haul to the wind and make short trips till daylight, in 
the space between these reefs and Portlock's Reef. 

Murray's Islands should not be passed, or quitted if the ship 
have anchored there, later than ten or eleven o'clock in the morning ; 
because the sun will be getting a-head and obscure the sight before 
another good anchorage can be secured. On passing the islands, 
keep the reef which lies five miles to the north about a mile on the 
starbord hand, steering W. £ S. by compass, with a boat a-head; for 
in this part there are many tide ripplings scarcely to be distinguished 
from the reefs. Having passed the ripplings, haul a point more to 
the southward ; and after having run eight or ten miles, from the 
time that the largest island bore south, there will be very few reefs 
to the northward, and Darnley's Island will be seen. On the lar- 
bord hand there will be a great mass of reefs ; and these it is neces- 
sary to follow at the distance of two or three miles, steering mostly 
W. S. W., and gradually more southward as they are found to trend. 
Some small patches will occasionally be met with ; but having the 
boat to go a-head, and the commander, or a careful officer looking out 
aloft, the Investigator's track between them may be safely followed. 
The leading mark in all this part of the course, is the line of the 
great south-eastern reeft; and the situation of the ship may be 
known at any time, by laying down cross bearings of Murray's 
and Darnley's Islands on the chart, allowing, if the ship's head 
be westward and the compass on the top of the binnacle, 5 of 
east variation. 

Several low, woody isles will come in sight a-head, or on the 
starbord bow ; and before reaching the end of the south-eastern 

Digitized by 


Sailing directions.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 3»1 

reefs, Half-way Island, which is iihe southernmost of them, will he 
seen to the south-west; and here I would recommend the ship to 
anchor for the night. If this island can be passed, however, before 
three % m the afternoon, and the sun'xlo not obscure the sight, she 
may push on south-westward till an hour before sunset; and anchor 
under the lee of any of those sand banks which lie in the route, the 
ground being better here than in the eastern part of the Strait. 

From Half-way Islatid, continue, to follow the Investigator's 
track, steering S. W. to S. W. by W v . by compass, as the small reefs 
and banks will allow ; and here there is no necessity for a lx>at to 
be kept a-head. The flat top of one of the York Isles, called Mount 
Adolphus by captain Bligh, will be the first high land seen, and after- 
wards Moirtit Ernest; the Gross bearings of which will show the situa- 
tion on the chart, until the Double Isle, which makes as two sm&ll hum- 
mocks, comes in sight. Steer then for Double Isle, pass on the north 
side, and haul south-westward for Wednesday Island, which will be 
three leagues distant. Pass it also on the north side, about one mile, 
and the same by Hammond's Island, which lies next to it. There will 
be an extensive reef on the starbord hand, but the smallest distance 
between it and the islands is above two miles; and a W. S. W. 
course by compass, will lead fair through the passage, with sound- 
ings from 9 to 6 fathoms. Booby Isle will presently be seen a-head, 
appearing at first like a white sand bank; it may be passed within 
a mile or two on either side, and is the last of the dangers, if it can 
be classed under them, of Torres' Strait. A ship should afterwards 
steer, by compass, W. by S. thirty or forty miles ; and the course 
may then be directed for any part of the world. 

In case the approach of night, or any other circumstance should 
make it desirable, shelter may be had under the Prince of Wales' 
Islands, or under Booby Isle ; and if a boat be sent on shore at dusk 
to Booby Isle, many birds, and perhaps some turtle may be procured. 

This passage through Torres' Strait will occupy from three to 
five days, according to the freshness of the south-east trade, and the 

Digitized by 


»2 A VOYAGE TO [Torres 9 Strait. 

degree of caution which a commander may see necessary to employ.* 
He will, of course, sound continually, though it have not been speci- 
fied; and keep a boat a-head with sounding signals, from the time 
of passing Murray's Isles till Half-way Island is in sight, and where- 
ever else there appears to him a necessity. Should he miss the 
Investigator's track in any part, which is very possible, there is no 
occasion for alarm ; most, if not all the inner reefs have deep chan- 
nels through them at every four or five miles, arid by these he may 
regain the track, with the assistance of his boat. 

The following precautions must not be neglected ; a strict and 
constant look-out at the mast head, by the commander or his most 
confidential officer, all the time that the ship is amongst the reefs ; 
— not to pass Murray's Islands without seeing them, since they are 
the leading mark for getting into the proper track ; — and on anchor- 
ing there, or at any other inhabited island, a strict watch must be 
kept on the natives, who will come off in canoes to barter a few 
cocoa-nut^ plantains, and their arms, for hatchets and other iron 
ware. No boat should be sent to an island where there are inhabi- 
tants; but if distress make it necessary, two or three should go 
together, well armed; for they will certainly be attacked, if the 
Indians have been able to lay a plan and collect their strength. A 
British seaman will, at the same time, studiously avoid all cause of 
quarrel with these poor misguided people, and not fire upon them 
but where self-defence makes it indispensable. 

Most of the dry sands and the uninhabited islands in the Strait 
appear to be frequented by turtle; and in the month of August, 

* The most expeditious passage known to have been made through the Strait, pre* 
viously to the Investigator, was that of captains Bligh and Portlock, in nineteen days; the 
account of which, as also that of Messrs. Bampton and Alt in the Introduction, page xix 
to xlv, a commander should previously read with the chart before him ; and if he do th* 
same with the passage of the Investigator, in Chap. V. of this Book II., and that of the 
Cumberland in Chap. III. following, he will have a tolerably correct notion of the dangers 
in Torres' Strait, and of the advantage in pursuing the route above described. 

Digitized by 


Sailing directions.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 298 

September, or later, it is probable some might be taken by landing a 
party of men, who should silently watch for their coming on shore 
at dusk. I do not know the kind of turtle most common in the 
Strait; at Booby Isle they were hawkes-bill, which furnish the finest 
tortoise shell, but^ure small and npt the best for food. 

The advantage in point of time, which this route presents to a 
ship bound from the Great Ocean to India, or to the Cape of Good 
Hope, will be best seen by a statement of two passages made at the 
same season; the one by Torres' Strait, the other round New Guinea. 

I sailed from Port Jackson in company with the Bridgewater, 
an extra East-Indiaman ; and we made Wreck Reef in eight days. 
From thence the Bridgewater steered round Louisiade, through 
Bougainville's Strait, Dampier's Strait, Pitt's Passage, and the Strait 
of Salayer; and arrived at Batavia in eighty-eight days. I left Wreck 
Reef some time afterward-, in a small schooner of twenty-nine tons ; ^ 
took ten days to reach Torres' Strait, three to pass through it, seven- 
teen to reach Coepang Bay, and ten more to pass the longitude of 
Java Head. Adding to these the eight days to Wreck Reef, the 
passage from Port Jackson to Java Head was forty-eight days, includ- 
ing various deviations and stoppages for surveying ; and it was prin- 
cipally made in a vessel which sailed no more than four or five 
knots, when the Bridgewater would have gone six or eight. The 
difference, nevertheless, in favour of Torres' Strait, was forty days; 
so that it seems within bounds to say, that in going from Port Jack- 
son to India or the Cape of. Good Hope, it offers an advantage over 
the northern route of six weeks ; and of four weeks in going from the 
more eastern parts of the Great Ocean. In point of safety, I know 
not whether Torres' Strait have not also the advantage; for although 
it be certainly more dangerous than any one of the eastern passages, 
it is doubtful whether it be more so than a four or six weeks extra 
navigation amongst the straits and islands to the east and north of 
New Guinea, where some new shoal, bank, or island is discovered by 
every vessel going that way. For myself, I should not hesitate to 

Digitized by 


294 A VOYAGE TO [Torres' Strait. 

prefer Torres' Strait, were it only on this account ; considering the 
lopg continuance of the danger in one case, as being more than a 
counterbalance to the superior degree of it in the other. 

With respect t6 a passage through Torres' Strait in the op- 
posite direction,— from the Indian Sea to the Great Ocean, it has not, 
to my knowledge, been attempted ; and I have some doubt of its 
practicability. A ship would have an advantage in entering the 
strait by its least dangerous side ; but as the passage could be made 
only in December, January, or February, the rainy squally weather 
which probably will then prevail, would augment the danger from the 
reefs ten fold. The experiment is therefore too hazardous for any 
except a ship on discovery ; whose business it is to encounter, and 
even to seek danger, when it may produce any important benefit to 
geography and navigation. 

Digitized by 


Port Jackson.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 295 




Departure from Port Jackson in the Porpoise, accompanied by the Bridge- 
water and Cato. The Cato's Bank. Shipwreck of the Porpoise and 
Cato in the night. The crews get on a sand bank ; where they are lift 
by the Bridgewater. Provisions saved. Regulations on the bank. 
Measures adopted for getting back to Port Jackson. Description of 
Wreck-Reef Bank. Remarks on the loss of M. de la Perouse. 

The third volume of my log book and journal having been lost in i8os, 
the events which succeeded the decay of the Investigator, I have had 
recourse to a memorandum book and to officers journals to supply 
the dates and leading facts contained in the first three chapters fol- 
lowing ; fortunately, my bearings and the astronomical observations 
taken by lieutenant Flinders and myself were preserved, as also were 
the rough charts, with one exception ; so that there are few cases 
where this department of the voyage will have materially suffered. 
There are, however, many circumstances related in these chapters, 
which either do not enter at all, or are slightly mentioned in the 
officers journals ; for these, my public; papers and copies of letters 
have principally furnished materials, and a tolerably faithful memory 
has supplied the rest, It seemed necessary to explain this, that the 
reader may know to what the deficiencies and abridgments in some 

Digitized by 


296 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. parts of these chapters are to be attributed ; and this being premised, 

I resume the narrative of our prepartions for returning to England. 

On July 20, lieutenant Fowler quitted the Investigator, with 
the crew selected for him, and took the command of His Majesty's 
armed vessel Porpoise ; and on the following day I went on board 
with the rest of my officers and people, to go with him as passengers. 
Amongst other preparations for the voyage, a green house was set 
up on the quarter deck of that ship ; and the plants collected in the 
Investigator from the south, the east, and north coasts of Terra 
Australis were deposited in it, to be conveyed to His Majesty's bo- 
tanical garden at Kew ; and as we had had the misfortune to lose the 
gardener of the expedition, and Mr. Brown, the naturalist, remained 
behind, a man from Port Jackson was engaged to take care of the: 
plants during the passage. 

The examination of Torres' Strait was one of the most* im- 
portant articles of my instructions which had been executed' only in 
part; and although I could not pretend to make any regular survey 
in the Porpoise, it was yet desirable to pass again through the strait, 
and lay down as many more of its dangers as circumstances would 
admit ; and this being represented to governor King, the following 
paragraph was made an article in lieutenant Fowler's orders. " The 
" objects which captain Flinders will have to finish in his route 
" through Torres' Strait, requires that he should be assisted with boats, 
" people, and have the entire direction of the ship as to the courses 
" she is to steer, making and shortening sail, anchoring, and every 
" other prompt attention to his directions as connected with his sur- 
" vey. You are therefore further required to comply with every 
" direction he may give you, to enable him to execute the orders of 
c< my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty; and as it will be 
" necessary that the most expeditious route should be followed, for 
" the purpose of ascertaining the length of time it will take to make 
" the voyage from hence to England, by Torres' Strait, and to enable 

II captain Flinders to be in England as early as possible, you wilt 

Digitized by 


Part Jackson.] TERRA AUSTRAL1S. 297 

" take especial care to lose ho time in getting to England by the ****• 
" route captain Flinders may indicate." 

In the beginning of August, the Porpoise was nearly ready to August 
sail ; and two ships then lying in Sydney Cove, bound to Batavia> 
desired leave to accompany us through the Strait. These were the 
Hon, East-India-Company's extra-ship Bridgewater, of about 750 
tons, commanded by E. H. Palmer, Esq.^and the ship Cato of London, 
of about 450 tons, commanded Mr. John Park. The company of these 
ships gave me pleasure ;ibr if we should be able to make a safe and 
expeditious passage through the strait with them, of which I had but 
little doubt, it would be a manifest prpof of the advantage of the 
route discovered in the Investigator, and tend to bring it into general 
use. On the 10th I took leave of my respected friend the governor Wedoea. 10. 
of New South Wales, and received his despatches for England ; and 
lieutenant Fowler having given a small code of signals to the Ikidge- 
water and Cato, we sailed out of Port Jackson together, at eleven t 
o'clock of the same morning, and steered north-eastward for Torres' 
Strait. • • 

Mr. Inman had re-delivered to me the two time-keepers, with' 
a table of their rates deduced from equal altitudes, but the No. 543 
had gone so very irregularly, as not to be entitled to any confidence ; 
the error of No. 520 from mean Greenwich time at noon there on 
the sd, and its rate of going during the twenty-five preceding 
days were as under : 
Earnshaw's No. 520, fast, 0* 49' 54" ,85 and losing 33^,38 per day. 

The winds were light, and mostly from the eastward during (AUas, 
the first two days of our quitting Port Jackson ; and not being able to Pkte j •* 
get far enough from the land to avoid the southern current, it had 
retarded us 35' on the 12th at noon, when the islands of Port Ste- Friday 12. 
phens were in sight. On the following day the wind became more 
steady in the south-western quarter, and as our distance from the 
land increased, the current abated ; - and on the 15th, when the lati- 
tude was 27 27', longitude 156 22', and distance from the coast 
vol. 11. Q q 

Digitized by 


298 • A VOYAGE TO lEast Com 

i8os. about fifty leagues, the set was something in our favour. The wind 
Monday is. was then at south, and our course steered was north for twenty- 
Wednea. ir. four hours, then N. by W. ; and on the 17th at noon we were in 
PiateX.) latitude *g 22', longitude 155° 34', and had the wind at S. E. by S. 
Soon after two o'clock, the Cato being some distance on our lar- 
bord quarter made the signal for seeing land. This proved to be a 
dry sand bank, which bore S. S. W. about three leagues ; and the 
Porpoise- sailing faster than the other ships, they were directed to 
keep on their course whilst we hauled up to take a nearer view of 
the bank. At three o'clock, when it bore S. by E. five or six miles, 
we hove to and sounded, but had no bottom at 80 fathoms. The 
Cato's Bank, for so it was named, is small and seemed to be desti- 
tute of vegetation ; there was an innumerable quantity of birds 
hovering about, and it was surrounded with breakers ; but their ex- 
tent seemed very little to exceed that of the bank, nor could any 
other reef near it be discovered. The situation was ascertained to 
be nearly 23 6' south, and 155 23' east ; and we then made sail 
after the Bridgewater and Cato, to take our station a-head of them 
as before. 

Some apprehensions were excited for the following night by 
meeting with this bank ; but as it was more than two degrees to the 
eastward of the great Barrier Reefs, we thought it unconnected 
with any other, like the two discovered by captain Ball and Mr. 
Bampton, further towards the north end of New Caledonia. I had, be-' 
sides, steered for Torres' Strait in the Investigator, from reefs several 
degrees to the westward, without meeting with any other danger 
than what lay near the Barrier or belonged to the Strait ; and by the 
time we had rejoined the ships in the evening, the distance run from 
the bank was thirty-five miles, and no other danger had been descried. 
It did not therefore seem necessary to lose a good night's run by 
. heaving to ; and I agreed with lieutenant Fowler, that it would be 
sufficient to make the signal for the ships to run under easy, Work- 
ing sail during the night,— to take our usual station a-head, — and to 

Digitized by 


Steering northward.] TERRA ATJSTRALIS. 980 

charge one of the Investigator's warrant officers with the look-out isos. 


on the fore castle. These precautions being taken, and the top sails Wednes. 17. 
double reefed, our course was pursued to the N. by W., with a fresh 
breeze and cloudy weather ; and at eight o'clock the lead was cast, 
but no bottom found at 35 fathoms. The Bridgewater was then 
about' half a mile on the starbord, and the Cato a mile on the lar- 
bord quarter ; and their distance seeming to increase at nine, when 
our rate of going was eight knots, the fore sail was hauled up to 
keep them in sight : wind then at S. E. by E. 

In half an hour, and almost at the same instant by the Investi- 
gator's carpenter on the fore castle, and the master who had charge 
of the watch on the quarter deck, — breakers were seen a-head. The 
helm was immediately put down, with the intention of tacking from 
them ; but the Porpoise having only three double-reefed top sails 
set, scarcely came up to the wind. Lieutenant Fowler sprang upon 
deoK, on hearing the noise ; but supposing it to be occasioned by 
carrying away the tiller rope, a circumstance which had often 
occurred in the Investigator, and having no orders to give, I re- 
mained some minutes longer, conversing with the gentlemen in the 
gun room. On going up, I found the sails shaking in the wind, and 
the ship in the act of paying off; at the same time there were very 
high breakers at not a quarter of a cable's length to leeward. In 
about a minute, the ship was carried amongst the breakers ; and 
striking upon a coral reef, took a fearful heel over on her larbord 
beam ends, her head being north-eastward. A gun was attempted 
to be fired, to warn the other vessels of the danger ; but owing to the 
violent motion and the heavy surfs flying over, this could not be 
done immediately ; and before lights were brought up, the Bridgfe- 
water and Cato had hauled to the wind across each other. 

Our fore mast was carried away at the second or third shock; 
and the bottom was presently reported to be stove in, and the hold 
full of water. When the surfs permitted us to look to windward, 
the Bridgewater and Cato were perceived at not more than a cable's 

Digitized by 


300 A VOYAGE TO {East CouU 

1803. length distance ; and approaching each other so closely, that their 
Wednes. 17. running abord seemed to us inevitable. This was an aweful mo- 
ment ; the utmost silence prevailed ; and when the bows of the two 
ships went to meet, even respiration seemed to be suspended. The 
ships advanced, and we expected to hear the dreadful crash ; but 
presently they opened off from each other, having passed side by 
side without touching ; the Cato steering to the north-east, and the 
Bridgewater to the southward. Our own safety seemed to have no 
other dependence than upon the two ships, and the exultation we 
felt at seeing this most imminent dangec passed, was great, but of 
short duration ; the ,Cato struck upon the reef about two cables 
length from the Porpoise, we saw her fall over on her broad side, 
and the masts almost instantly disappeared ; but the darkness of the 
night did not admit of distinguishing, at that distance, what further* 
might have happened. 

Turning our eyes toward the Bridgewater, a light was per- 
ceived at her mast head, by which we knew she had cleared the 
reef; and our first sensations were, that the commander would 
certainly tack, and send boats to our assistance ; but when a little 
reflexion had enabled us to put ourselves in his place, it became 
evident that he would not choose to come so near the reef in the 
night, blowing fresh as it did ; and still less to. send his boats and 
people into the breakers, to their certain destruction. 

The Porpoise had very fortunately heeled towards the reef ; 
so that the surfs which struck against her turned-up side, flew over 
without washin'g any thing off the decks ; and the smooth appear- 
ance of the water under the lee, afforded a prospect of being able to 
get the boats out on that side. The experiment was tried with a 
small. four-oared gig, and succeeded; but a six-oared cutter was 
jerked against the sheet anchor by the violence of the shocks, and 
being stove, was filled with water. 

It was by no means certain how long the ship, being slightly 
built and not in a sound state, might hold together ; it was therefore 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reefl TERRA AUSTRALIS. 3* 

deemed expedient to lighten her, that she might drive further up the iscra. 
coral bank and lie more easily. On sounding, the depth was found Wedne*. vr. 
to be 17 fathoms on the windward side, but no more than a few feet 
on the reef; and Mr. Fowler ordered the main and mizen masts, 
and the starbord anchor to be cut away ; but on my suggesting to 
him the possibility of driving over the reef, with the rise of tide, and 
sinking in deep water as the Pandora had done, the lightening of 
the ship was not prosecuted further. 

Beyond the smooth water close under the lee, there was a 
line of breakers, and further on the sea appeared to be tranquil ; 
it therefore seemed probable that boats might approach the ship on 
that side, and if this information could be conveyed to captain Pal- 
mer of the Bridgewater, that something might bd speedily done to- 
wards saving the crew ; and as it was likely that my influence with 
him might be greatest, and being a passenger in the Porpoise 
no charge made my presence on board immediately necessary, I 
proposed to make the attempt in the gig, to which Mr. Fowler as- 
sented. The boat being obliged to lie at a little distance from the 
ship, to prevent being stove, I jumped over-board and swam to her; 
and we pushed through the breakers to the smooth water, receiving 
two or three surfs by the way, from which we hardly escaped 
sinking. On examining into the condition of the boat, I found no- 
thing to bale out the water, and only two oars which did not belong 
to it ; and instead of the proper crew of four men, there were only 
three ; but under the thwarts were stowed away three others, the / 
armourer, a cook, and a marine, who did not know how to handle 
an oar. These last were set to baling with their hats and shoea, 
and we rowed towards the Bridgewater's light, keeping under the 
lee of the breakers. That ship was standing from us, and I saw 
that any attempt to get nearer before she tacked would be fruitless; 
and even afterwards, it was much to be doubted whether, with two 
awkward oars and an overloaded boat, we could make any way 
against the sea on the windward side of the reef; I therefore deter- 

Digitized by 


302 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast 

1803. m ined to remain under the lee of the breakers until she should 


Wcdnes. 17. approach, and to lie near the Porpoise ; that in case of her going to 
pieces before morning, we might save some of the people. In rowing 
back we met the cutter, which the men in her, having got the leak 
partly stopped, had pushed off without an officer, and were going 
they scarcely knew whither ; they furnished us with a third oar, and 
I desired them to keep close to the gig, near the wreck, until morn- 
ing. We found the bottom here to be coral rock, and the water so 
shallow, that a man might stand up in many places without being 
over head. 

I wished to have got on board the ship, to let them know of 
the boats being safe and what we had discovered of the reef ; but 
the breakers between us, apd the darkness of the night cut off all 
hope of communication before morning. They burned blue lights 
every half hour, as a guide to the Bridgewater ; but her light was 
lost to us in the boats at eleven o'clock, and after two in the morn- 

Thuredayis. ing it was no longer seen from the Porpoise. At that time it appeared 
to be low water, and the ship lay so much more quiet than before, 
that the apprehension of her going to pieces before daylight had 
much subsided ; to be prepared, however, for the next flood, Mr. 
Fowler employed his people during the night in making a raftof the 
spare top masts, yards, &c, with short ropes all round it, by which 
tile people might hold on ; and a cask of water, with a chest con- 
taining some provisions,' a sextant, and the Investigator's log books, 
were secured upon the raft. 

In the small gig we were quite drenched, the south-east wind 
blew fresh and cold, and the reflexions excited by the great change 
so suddenly made in our situation, with the uncertainty of what had 
befallen the Cato and even the Bridgewater, did not tend to make 
this long night pass more agreeably. My thoughts were principally 
occupied in devising plans for saving ourselves, under the appre- 
hension that we might see no more of the Bridgewater ; but not to 
discourage the people, I spoke of every body getting on board that 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 30* 

ship in the morning, and of continuing our voyage to England, as isos. 
not at all doubtful. Thuwdayia. 

x Of the poor Cato, we could neither see nor hear any thing. It 
appeared that captain Park, when meeting the Bridgewater on oppo- 
site tacks, stopped setting his main sail and bore away to leeward ; 
had he persevered, both ships must have come upon the reef to- 
gether ; but by his presence o^mind on this' occasion, the Bridgewater 
weathered the breakers and escaped the impending danger. When 
the Cato struck the reef, it was upon the point of a rock, under the 
larbord chess tree ; and she fell over to windward, with her decks? 
exposed to the waves. In a short time the decks and holds were 
torn up, and every thing washed away ; and the sole place left, where 
the unfortunate people could hope to avoid the fury of the sea, was 
in the larbord fore channel, where they all crowded together* the 
greater part with no other covering than their shirts. Every time 
the sea struck the Cato, it twisted her about upon the rock with such 
violent jerks, that they expected the stern, Which was down in the 
water, would part every moment. In this situation, some lashing 
themselves to the timber heads, others clinging to the chain plates 
and dead eyes, and to each other, captain Park and his crew passed 
the night ; their hope being, that the fore castle of the ship might 
hold upon the rock till morning, and that the Bridgewater would 
then send her boats to save them. From the Porpoise they enter- 
tained no hope ; and until the signal lights were seen, they thought ~ 
her gone to pieces. 

At the first dawning of day, I got on board the Porpoise by 
the help of the fallen masts. Every body was in good spirits at 
seeing the ship hold together so "well, and finding the boats safe ; 
for the gig, with all in her, had been given Up for lost, some one 
having thought he saw her sink in the breakers. With the day- 
light appeared a dry sand bank, not more than half a mile distant, 
sufficiently large to receive us all with what provisions might be 
got out of the ship ; and the satisfaction arising from this discovery 

Digitized by 


804 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast 

1803. was increased by the Bridgewater being perceived under sail, and 

Thursday is. though distant, that she was standing towards the reef. On the 

other side, the appearance of the poor Cato, with the people waving 

to us from the bowsprit and fore castle, the only parts above water, 

was truly distressing. 

The reef seemed to be a mile in breadth, and it extended in an 
east dnd west direction to a distance beyond what could be distin- 
guished from the Porpoise's deck; but there were in it several wide, 
and apparently deep openings, by which the Bridgewater might run 
to leeward, and there anchor or lie to, whilst sending her boats to 
our assistance. Having made these remarks, I left Mr. Fowler 
and his people getting up water and provisions ; and went to the 
bank for the purposed of being ready to go off in the gig so soon as 
1 that ship should be near enough-, and pointing out to captain Palmer 

the means by which he might take on board the two crews and what 
else might be saved ; but he went upon the other tack soon after- 
ward, and no more was seen of him during the day. 

A number of sea-birds eggs scattered over the bank, shdwed 
* that it was above high-water mark, and I sent the gig back with this 
intelligence to lieutenant Fowler. Seeing that the Bridgewater did 
not approach, he ordered the boat to lie opposite to the Cato ; and 
captain Park and his men, throwing themselves into the water with 
any pieces of spar or plank they could find, swam to her through 
the breakers ; and were then taken to the Porpoise where they re- 
ceived food and some clothing. Several were bruised against the 
coral rocks, and three young lads were drowned. One of these poor 
boys, who, in the three or four voyages he had made to sea, had 
bfeen eadi time shipwrecked, had bewailed himself through the night 
as the persecuted Jonas who carried misfortune wherever he went. 
He launched himself upon a broken spar with his captain ; but hav- 
ing lost his hold in the breakers, was not seen afterwards. 

At low water, which happened about two o'clock, the reef was 
dry very near to the Porpoise, and both officers and men were 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 305 

assiduously employed in getting upon it provisions and their clothes; 188S - 
they were brought from thence by the boats, for the depth was Th*iwkyi«. 
several feet at a distance round the bank. Before dark, five half 
hogsheads of water, some flour, salt meat, rice, and spirits were 
landed, with such of the pigs and sheep as had escaped drown* 
ing; and every man from both ships had got on shore. Some of the 
Cato's sailors appeared in officers uniforms, given to them in the 
Porpoise ; and I was pleased to see that our situation was not thought 
so bad by the people, as to hinder all pleasantry upon these promo- 
tions. Those who had sayed great coats or blankets shared with 
the less fortunate, and we laid down to sleep on the sand in tolerable 
tranquillity, being much oppressed with fatigue; and except from 
those of the Cato's men who had been bruised or cut by the rocks, 
there was not a complaining voice heard on the bank. 

The Porpoise's two cutters and the gig were hauled up to 
high-water mark ; but the latter not having been well secured, and 
the night tide rising higher than was expected, it was carried away, 
to our great loss. In the morning, we had the satisfaction to see Friday 19. 
the ship still entire, and thrown higher up the reef; the Cato had 
gone to pieces, and all that remained was one of the quarters, which 
had floated over the front ledge of the reef, and lodged near our 
bank. Of the Bridgewater nothing could be seen ; and many fears 
were entertained for her safety. 

For the better preservation of discipline, and of that union 
between the crews of the Porpoise and Cato and passengers of the 
Investigator, so necessary in our circumstanoes, it was highly expe- 
dient that they should be put on the same footing and united under 
one head. The Porpoise was lost beyond a possibility of hope, and 
the situation of the commander and crew thereby tendered similar 
to that of their passengers; I therefore considered myself authorised 
and called upon, as the senior officer, to take the command of the 
whole; and my intention being communicated to lieutenant* Fowler, 
he assented without hesitation to its expediency and propriety, and 
vol, ii- Rr 

Digitized by 


806 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. I owe to captain Park a sipiilar acknowledgement. The people were 
Friday 19. then assembled upon the top of the bank ; and I informed the seamen 
of the Cato, one or two of whom had shown signs of discontent at 
being ordered to work, that as they doubtless expected to be fed 
from our proviskJns, so they must exert themselves to save as much 
as possible ;* and although they were not in the King's pay, yet as 
a magistrate acting^within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty, I would 
punish all deviations from obedience and good conduct in them, the 
same as amongst our own seamen. I ordered the Cato's men, who 
had saved nothing, to be quartered in the messes of our people, in 
the proportion of one to three ; and directed lieutenant Fowler, who 
had charge of the provisions, to victual all alike. The surgeon of 
the Porpoise was ordered to examine the wounded, and give in a list 
of those really incapable of duty ; and a large party, consisting of 
as many men as the two cutters could contain, went off to the wreck 
under the command of Mr. Fowler, to disembark provisions and stores, 
A top-sail yard was set up and secured as a flag staff on the 
highest part of the bank, and a large blue ensign hoisted to it 
with the union downward, as a signal to the Bridge water. We 
expected, if no accident had happened, that she would come to re- 
lieve us from our critical situation so soon as the wind should be 
perfectly moderate; but I judged it most prudent to act as if we had 
no such resource, and this was justified by the event. Captain Palmer 
had even then abandoned us to our fate, and was, at the moment, 
steering away for Batavia, without having made any effort to give 
us assistance. He saw the wrecks, as also the sand bank, on the 
morning after our disaster, and must have known that the reef was 
not all connected, since it is spoken of by him as lying in patches ; 
but he did not seek to ascertain whtether >any of the openings were 

* When a merchant ship is lost, the seamen not only cease to be in pay, but lose all 
wages due to them after the last delivery of the cargo ; and the sole interest they have to 
save the stores, even of their own ship, is for the preservation of themselves, or the pro- 
spect of being rewarded by the owners or insurers^ 

j by 


Wreck Reef.-] TERRA AUSTRALIA 30T 

passable for the Bridgewater, and might enable him to take those on isw. 
board who had escaped drowning. He bore away round all ; and Friday 19, 
whilst the two hapless vessels were still visible from the mast head, 
passed the leeward extremity of the reef, and hove to for the night. 
The apprehension of danger to himself must then have ceased ; but 
he neither attempted to work up in the smooth water, nor sent any 
of his boats to see whether some unfortunate individuals were not 
clinging to the wrecks, whom he might snatch from the sharks or 
save from a more fingering death ; it was safer, in his estimation, to 
continue on his voyage and publish that we were all lost, as he did 
not fail to do on his arrival in India.* 

+ Against a British seaman filling a respectable situation, these are heavy charges ; but 
Mr. Palmer is himself the authority. The following extracts from his account are taken 
from a Calcutta paper, the Orphan of Feb. 3, 1804. The Bridgewater, he says, 
" was just beginning to draw off, when the Porpoise was scarcely a ship's length to lee- , 
"ward, settling with her head towards us, and her broadside upon the reef; her foremast 
ts was gone and the sea breaking over her. At this moment we perceived the Cato within 
" half a cable's length, standing stem on for us. I hailed to put their helm a-starboard, 
" by which means she just cleared us, and luffed up under our stern; had she fallen on 
" board of us the consequences must have been dreadful indeed." On the 18th, " When 
" the day was broke, we had the mortification to perceive the Cato had shared the fate of the 
tc Porpoise; the bow and bow sprit of the latter only at intervals appearing through the 
" surf, (The Porpoise and Cato were mistaken for each other.) The latter lay with her 
" bottom exposed to the sea*, which broke with tremendous fury over her; not a mast stand- 
" ing. Finding we could not weather the reef, and that it was too late had it been in our 
"power to give any assistance; and still fearing that we might be embayed or entangled 
€€ by the supposed chain or patches ; all therefore that remained for us to do was either 
" by dint of carrying sail to weather the reef to the southward, (meaning the Cato's Bank,) 
" or, if failing in that, to push to leeward and endeavour to find a passage through the 
"patches of reef to the northward. At ten, we found by chronometer we had got 
u considerably to the westward ; and that it would be impossible, with the wind as it was 
" then blowing strong from the S. E. with a heavy sea, to weather the southern reef; we 
" therefore determined, while we had the day before us, to run to the westward of the 
" northern reef." 

" At two p. m. we got sight of the reef bearing N. N. E. At five p. m. we could per- 
u ceivB the ivrecks, and ascertained the westermost extent of the reef to lay in 
" 155° 42' 30* east longitude." 

Digitized by 


808 A VOYAGE TO . {East Coast. 

leas. The wind blew fresh from the south-eastward cm the 18th, 


Monday 22, and 19th, but on the two following days it was moderate with fine 
weather; we worked hard on board the Porpoise, and by the »snd 
had got most of the water and provisions secured in a large tent made 
with spars and sails ; each mess of officers and men had also their 

u After passing the reef we lay too for the night; and in the morning we lost sight « 
€t of it, having drifted to the northward. 

Such is the substantial part of Mr. Palmer's account, omitting his own fears and con- 
gratulations, and his " most painful reflexions on the sufferings of the shipwrecked/' 
Nothing is said of the sand bank ; but I have been favoured with a copy of the journal of 
Mr. Williams, third mate of the Bridgewater, and the following passages are taken from it. 

" At half past seven a. m. (Aug. 18.) saw the reef on our weather bow, and from the 
" mast head we saw the two ships, and to leeward of them a sand bank. The weather 
" abated much, we set all our sails, and every man rejoiced that they should have it in their 
" power to assist their unfortunate companions 5 as there was every probability of our 
" g°fag within two miles of thtf reef. The morning threatened ; but before the wind 
a increased we had time to satisfy ourselves if there were any still in existence ; we had 
" nothing to apprehend but what could be seen before we approached so near. The ships 
" were very distinctly to be seen from aloft, and also from the deck ; but instead of ren- 
" dering them any succour, the captain ordered the ship to be put on the other tack, and 
" said it was impossible to render them any relief. What must be the sensations of each 
" man at that instant? Instead of proceeding to the support of our unfortunate com- 
€C panions, to leave them to the mercy of the waves, without knowing whether they were 
€C in existence, or had perished ! From the appearance of the wrecks, there was every 
S€ probability of their existing; and if any survived at the time we were within sight, what 
" must have been their sensations on seeing all their anxious expectations of relief blasted. 

" Until our arrival at Bombay, nothing particular occurred, except my being sent on 
" shore at Tillicherry with the account of the loss of the Porpoise and Cato; an account 
" that served for the moment to blind the people. In executing this service, I did, for 
" the first time to my knowledge, neglect my duty, and gave a contrary account ; but for 
** this reason, — I was convinced that the crews of those ships were on the reefs, and that 
" this was an erroneous account made by captain Palmer to excuse his own conduct. I 
" left it on shore for the perusal of the inhabitants, after relating the story as contrary as 
" possible. This was the cause of many words ; and at length ended with my quitting 
i( the ship, and forfeiting my wages and a part of my clothes." • 

Such was the conduct of Mr. Palmer towards His Majesty's ship Porpoise, and towards 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 909 

private tent ; and our manner of living and working had assumed ****■. 
the same regularity as before the shipwreck. One of the men whose Monday **. 
liberty governor King had granted at my request, being guilty of 
disorderly conduct, the articles of war were publicly read, and the 
man punished at the flag staff. This example served to correct any 
evil disposition, if such existed ; the men worked cordially together, 
and in all respects we preserved the same discipline and order as on 
board His Majesty's ships. 

Our prospects of receiving succour from the Bridgewater hav- 
ing become very feeble, after- two days of moderate weather had 
elapsed, I called a council of all the officers, to deliberate upon the 
best means of relieving ourselves from the precarious situation in 
which our misfortune, and captain Palmer's want of energy and 
humanity had left us exposed ; and it was finally determined, that 
an officer and crew in the largest of the two six-oared cutters, should 
endeavour to get to Sandy Cape, sixty-tfiree leagues distant, and 
from thence along the coast to Port Jackson ; and pray His Excel- 
lency, the governor, to send vessels to carry us either back to that 
port or on towards England. But as the safe arrival of the cutter at 
that season of the year, when strong winds usually prevail from the 
southward, was a subject of much apprehension; it was resolved 
that two decked boats, capable of transporting every person remain- 
ing on the bank, except one officer and boat's crew, should be imme- 
diately laid down by the carpenters, to be built from what was already 
and might be still further saved from the wreck ; and that, if the 
officer in the cutter did not return with assistance in two months, the 
boats should then, or as soon after as they could be ready to sail, 

the Cato which had given way in the moment of danger that he might he saved. But 
the officers and crews of the Porpoise and Cato reached England in safety; whilst captain 
Palmer and the Bridgewater, who left Bombay for Europe, have not been heard of, now 
for many years. How dreadful must have been his reflexions at the time his ship was 
going down! Lieutenant Tucker of the navy, who* was first officer of the Bridgewater, 
and several others as well as Mr. Williams, had happily quilted the ship in India. 

)igitized by 


3110 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. proceed to Port Jackson. The first and principal means, however, 
Monday^, through which our deliverance was to be expected, being the safe 
arrival of the cutter, the choice of an officer to conduct her was next 
considered. Lieutenant Fowler proposed, and it seemed to be«the 
general wish, that I should undertake the execution of the task ; and 
being satisfied that the preservation of order on the bank, and the 
saving of the stores would be left in good hands, the hope of being 
instrumental to the general safety induced me readily to comply. 
But to provide against sickness and the various accidents which 
might arise from the natives of the coast or otherwise, it was neces- 
sary that two officers should be in the boat; and captain Park of the 
Cato being desirous of returning to Port Jackson, to make the ne- 
cessary statements relative to the loss of his ship, he was appointed 
my second with the general approbation. 

The smaller cutter with an officer, his second, and a boat's 
crew, I proposed should remain with the stores, and in charge of 
my charts and books for a few weeks longer tton the two months ; 
and then go to Port Jackson also, should no vessel arrive before that 
time. This precaution was necessary, lest any unforeseen occur- 
rence should delay my return to the bank beyond two months, 
though not prevent it altogether; that the charts, journals, and 
papers might still be found there, to be taken on \o England if 
wanted. I designed my brother, lieutenant Flinders, for this service ; 
but Mr. Fowler claiming it as the post of honour, I too much re- 
spected the principle that influenced him not to accede to his request; 
and therefore ordered, that the former officer and Mr. John Aken, 
maste^of the Investigator, should take charge of the decked boats, 
with a master's mate in each capable of conducting them to Port 
Jackson, should illness or any accident happen to either of the officers. 
Tuesday 23. * By the evening of the 23rd, the Porpoise was well nigh emptied 
of all the most essential things ; and on a survey being made, there 
was found sufficient water and provisions on the bank to serve ninety- 
four men, which was our number, for three months, even at full 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 311 

allowance ; although many casks were stove in the hold by the bulg- A 1803 * 
ing of the larbord side, and much dry provisions spoiled by the Tuesday zz* 
salt water. The principal contents of the warrant officers store 
rooms, as well as the sails, rigging, and spars, were also on shore. 
My books, charts, and papers had suffered much damage, from the 
top of the cabin being displaced when the mizen mast fell ; all such 
papers as chanced to be loose on the night of the shipwreck were ' 

then washed away by the surfs, and amongst them a chart of the 
west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria and part of the North Coast, 
upon which I had been occupied in the afternoon. Part of my small 
library shared the same fate ; but the rest of the charts, -with my 
log and bearing books and astronomical observations were all saved, 
though some of them in a wet and shattered state. The rare plants 
collected *>n differeht parts of the south, the east, and north coasts of 
- Terra Australis, for His Majesty's botanic garden at Kew, and which 
were in a flourishin g state before the shipwreck, were totally de- 
stroyed by the salt water ; as were the dried specimens of plants. 
Fortunately, the naturalist and natural-history painter, who re- 
mained at Port Jackson, had put on board only a small part of their 
collection of specimens ; the great mass, with the preserved birds, 
quadrupeds, and insects being kept for a fiiture opportunity. Mr. 
Westall, the landscape painter, had his sketches and drawings 
wetted and partly destroyed in his cabin ; and my little collection 
in mineralogy and conchology was much defaced, and one-half lost. 

The carpenters were employed until the evening of the 25th, in Thursdays, 
preparing the cutter for her intended expedition ; and the rest of the 
people in adding to the stores on the bank. As the Porpqjse be- 
came lighter, the sea threw her higher up on the reef, and she 
was much shaken ; but we. hoped the timbers and beams would 
hold together, at least until the next spring tides, and that every 
thing would be got out. Of the Cato, nothing but a few scattered 
fragments had remained for several days before. 

Before leaving Wreck Reef, it will be proper to say some- 

Digitized by 


31fi A VOYAGE TO \Ea*t Vout. 

1808. thing of the sand hank to which we were all indebted for our lives ; 

August. ° 

Thurs. 25. and where the greater part of the officers and people were to re- 
main in expectation of my return from Port Jackson. In the annexed 
view of it, Mr. Westall has represented the corals above water, to 
give a better notion of their forms and the way they are seen on the 
reefs ; but in reality, the tide never leaves any considerable part of 
them uncovered. The length of the bank is about one hundred 
and fifty fathoms, by fifty in breadth, and the general elevation three 
or four feet above the common level of high water ; it consists of 
sand and pieces of coral, thrown up by the waves and eddy tides on 
a patch of reef -five or six miles in circut ; and being nearly in the 
middle of the patch, the sea does no more, even in a gale, than send 
a light spray over the bank, sufficient, however, to prevent the 
growth of any other than a few diminutive salt plants. On its north 
and north-west sides, and atone or two cables length from the reef, 
there is from 18 to 35 fathoms on a bottom of coral sand ; where 
the Bridgewater might have anchored in safety, so long as the wind 
remained between S. W- and E. S. E., and received every person 
from the wrecks, with provisions for their subsistence. The latitude* 
of the bank was found to be 22* 11' south, and longitude by the 
time keeper No. 520, reduced up from an observation on the after- 
noon preceding the shipwreck, 155° 3'; but this was afterwards 
found to require correction. This excellent time keeper did not 
seem to have been affected by the violent motion of the ship ; but 
No. 543 stopped, and Arnold's watch No. 1736 was spoiled by the 
salt water. 

In searching for something wherewith to make a fire on the 
first night of our landing, a spar and a piece of timber, worm eaten 
and almost rotten, were found and burnt. The timber was seen by 
the master of the Porpoise, who judged it to have been part of the 
stern post of a ship of about four hundred tons ; and I have thought 
it might, not improbably, have belonged to La Boussole or U Astro- 
labe. Monsieur de la P6rouse, on quitting Botany Bay, intended to 

Digitized by 




Digitized by 


> \ 








Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 313 

visit the south-west coast of New Caledonia ; and he might have J 808 - 

° August. 

encountered in the night, as we did, some one of the several reefs (Atlagt 

which lie scattered in this sea.* Less fortunate than we were, he Plate '•) * 

probably had no friendly sand bank near him, upon which his people 

might be collected together and the means of existence saved out 

of the ships ; or perhaps' his two vessels both took the unlucky' 

direction of the Cato after striking, and the seas which broke into 

them carried away all his boats and provisions ; nor would La Pe- 

rouse, his vessels, or crews be able, in such a case, to resist the 

impetuosity of the waves more than twenty-four hours. If such 

were the end of the regretted French navigator, as there is now 

but too much reason to fear, it is the counterpart of what would 

have befallen all on board the Porpoise and Cato, had the former 

ship, like the Cato, fallen over towards the sea instead of heeling to ' 

the reef. 

An opinion that La P6rouse had been lost in this neighbour- 
hood, induced me when examining the main coast to seek carefully 
at every place, amongst the refuse thrown upon the shores, for in- 
dications of shipwreck to windward ; and could the search have 
been then prosecuted to the 15th, or 12th degree of latitude, I am 
persuaded it would npt have been in vain. Besides the extensive 
reefs which skirt the western side of New Caledonia, and the Barrier 
Reefs on the opposite coast of New South Wales, we are now ac- 

* La P6rouse says, in bis letter to M. de Fleurieu, dated Feb. f 9 If $8 from Botany 
Bay, " You will doubtless be glad to learn, that I have not allowed this misfortune (the 
" massacre of cajrtain De 1' Angle and eleven others at the Navigator's Isles) to derange 
tc the plan of the remaining part of my voyage." This plan, as expressed in a preceding 
letter of Sept. 7> 1787* at Avatscha, was to " employ six months in visiting the Friendly 
" Islands to procure refreshments, the southwest coast of New Caledonia, the island 
" of Santa Cruz of Mendana, the southern coast of the land of the Arsacides, with 
" that of Louisiade as far as New Guinea." . Voyage of La Pirouse, Translation, 
London, 1799, Vol. II. p. 494-S, 502-3. 

As La Perouse did not reach the Friendly Isles, it is probable that he began with New 
Caledonia ; and that upon the south-West coast, or in the Way to it, disaster befel hiiy . 


Digitized by 


&14 A VOYAGE TO [Ea$t CoaH 

i8os. quainted with the six or eight following distinct banks of coral in 
the sea between them, exclusive of Wreck Reef and the Cato's Bank. 

Two reefs discovered by Bougainville. 

Bature de Diane, by the same. 

Two reefs further westward, by the Investigator. 

Booby Shoal, towards New Caledonia, by captain H. L. Ball. 

Bellona's Shoal, by the ship of that name. 

Bampton's Shoal, an extensive reef with two small islands. 
There are also the islets and shoals seen by the ship Sovereign, 
which are probably a part of those that extend so far from the north- 
west end of New Caledonia ; and all these, with some others fur- 
ther northward, lie in the space comprehended between Louisiade 
and New Guinea on the north, — New Caledonia to the east, — New 
South Wales to the west,— and a line drawn from Sandy Cape to the 
Isle of Pines on the south. Few ships have passed through this 
sea without making the discovery of some new bank of coral ; and 
it is probable that several other patches of reef, yet unknown, will 
bfe found in it, especially on the Caledonian side. This space might 
be very appropriately called the Corallian Sea. 

Digitized by 


In ike boat.] TERRA. AUSTRAL1S. 815 


Departure from Wreck-Reef Bank in a boat. Boisterous weather. The 
coast of New South Wales reached, and followed. • Natives at Point 
Look-out. Landing near Smoky Cape ; and again near Port Hunter. 
Arrival at Port Jackson on the thirteenth day. Return to Wreck 
Reef with a ship and two schooners. Arrangements at the Bank. 
Account of the reef, with nautical and other remarks. 

On August a6, the largest cutter being ready for her expedition, isos. 
was launched and named the Hope. The morning was fine, and wind Fnday26. 
light from the southward ; and notwithstanding theday, which in (Atlas, 
the seaman's calendar is the most unfortunate of the whole week to 
commence a voyage, I embarked for Port Jackson witb the com- 
mander of the Cato. We had a double set of rowers, making in all 
fourteen persons, with three weeks provisions and two half hogs- 
heads of water ; so that the Hope was loaded rather too deeply. At 
eight in the morning, we pushed off amidst the cheers and good 
wishes of those for whom we were going to seek relief; an ensign 
with the union downward, had hitherto been kept hoisted as a signal 
to captain Palmer of our distress ; but in this moment of enthusiasm 
a seaman quitted the crcfwd, and having obtained permission, ran 
to the flag staff, hauled down the ensign, and rehoisted it with the 
union in the upper canton. This symbolical expression of contempt 
for the Bridgewater and of confidence in the success of our voyage, 
I did not see without lively emotions. 

We made sail to the westward under the lee of the reef, and 
passed two openings in it of nearly a mile wide. The second league 
brought us abreast of a dry sand bank, smaller than that quitted ; 

Digitized by 


316 A VOYAGE TO [Ea$t Coast. 

1803. an d at noon we came to a third, lying ten miles, west of Wreck- 
August, w © 

Friday 26. Reef Bank. Having then lost the breeze, we stopped to cook our 
dinner on shore ; and in the mean time I shot as many noddies as 
would give all the boat's crew a meal. On quitting this third bank, 
which is near the western extremity of Wreck Reef, we crossed into 
the open sea; and a breeze springing up at south-east, made sail 
towards Sandy Gape. Many hump-backed whales were playing 
about the boat during the whole time we remained under the lee of 
the reef, but they did not follow us further. 

Nothing but clear water was visible at sunset, nevertheless 
we ran cautiously in the dark, looking out for breakers ; the night 
was fine, and we made good progress by means of the oars, at 
which the twelve men took watch and watch, as Mr. Park and my- 
self did at the helm : it was for this purpose, and to guard against 
accidents, that I had taken so many men in the boat. 
Saturday 27. At day break the wind was E. S. E., and no land in sight; the 

boat was going four knots, and at noon our latitude by log was 
23 6' and the distance made from Wreck-Reef Bank, ninety miles. 
The wind freshened in the afternoon, and a cross sea rose which 
obliged us to reef the sails, and made the boat very wet. At four 
we close reefed and hauled to the wind, but this was not enough ; 
the increased hollowness of the waves caused the boat to labour so 
much, that every plunge raised an apprehension that some of the 
planks would start from the timbers. Having no other resource, we 
emptied one of the two casks of water, threw over-board the stones 
of out fire place and wood for cooking, as also a bag of pease and 
whatever else could be best spared ; the boat was then somewhat 
more easy ; and before dark, the hollow swell had so far subsided 
that we kept two points from the wind, and again went along in 
tolerable tranquillity. 

This hollow sea was probably caused by a weather tide setting 

out of some passage between the reefs to the north-westward ; and 

y the succeeding smooth water by the tidft having turned to leeward, 

Digitized by 


In thQ boat] TERRA AUSTRALIA 317 

or otherwise from the boat having passed across the stream; it is at A 180S, t 
least certain, that the southern part of the Barrier Reefs, seen by Saturday ir. 
captain Swain of the ship Eliza, was somewhere to the north-west 
of our situation at that time. To avoid all these reefs, and to coun- 
teract the effect of a north-western current, I kept a S. S. W. course 
all the following night. 

We had fine weather next morning, with a moderate breeze at Sunday 28. 
north-east; and at noon, the distance run in the preceding twenty- 
four hours was ninety-one miles by the log, -and the observed lati- 
tude 24 53' south: the tead was put over-board, but no bottom 
found at 50 fathoms. Our situation being to the south of Sandy 
Cape, we steered a point more west, in the hope of seeing the land 
before night; it being my intention to keep near the coast from 
thence to Port Jackson, that by landing, or running the boat on 
shore, we might escape foundering at sea should a gale of wind come 
on. At sunset, the land was visible to the westward at the distance 
of four or five leagues, and we then hauled up south, parallel to the 
coast ; the night was fine, the wind light and fair, and at daylight Monday «t, 
the tops of the hills were seen in the west, at the same distance as 
before. Our latitude at noon was 26 32', and a high hummock 
Upton the land, somewhere between Double-island Point and Glass- 
house Bay, bore W. ± N. * 

Our favourable breeze died away in the % afternoon, and we took 
to the oars; it however sprung up again from the northward, and 
brought us within sight of Cape Moreton at sunset. Towards mid- (AU.P1.1X.) 
night the weather became squally with heavy rain, and gave us all 
a thorough drenching; but the wind not being very strong in these 
squalls, our course was still pursued to the southward. After the 
rain ceased the wind came at S. S. W. ; and the weather remaining 
unsettled, we tacked at daylight to get close in with the land, and Tuesday so. 
at noon anchored under Point Look-out. This was only the fourth 
day of our departure from Wreck Reef, and I considered the voyage 
to be half accomplished, since we had got firm hold -of the main 

Digitized by 


318 A VOYAGE TO {East Coatt. 

i8os. coast; toe. the probability of being lost is greater in making three 
Tuesday so. hundred miles in an open boat at sea, than in running even six hun- 
dred along shore. It would have added much to our satisfaction, 
could we have conveyed the intelligence of this fortunate progress 
to our shipmates on the bank. 

The necessity for a supply of fresh Water was becoming 
urgent, for our remaining half hogshead was much reduced. There 
were about twenty Indians upon the side of a hill near the shore, 
who seemed to be peaceably disposed, amusing us with dances in 
imitation of the kanguroo ; we made signs of wanting water, which 
they understood, and pointed to a small rill falling into the sea. 
Two of the sailors leaped over-board, with some trifles for the natives 
and one end of the lead line; with the other end we slung the empty 
cask, which they hauled on shore and filled without molestation. 
A shark had followed them to the beach ; and fearing they might 
be attacked in returning, we got up the anchor and went to a place 
where the surf, though too much to allow of the boat landing, per- 
mitted us to lie closer. The cask of water, a bundle of wood, 
and the two men were received on board without accident; the 
natives keeping aloof during the whole time, and even retiring when 
our people approached, though they were without arms and naked. 
It is probable that the Indians were astonished at the comparison 
between the moderately white skins of the sailors and their own, 
and perhaps had beard of my expedition to Glass-house Bay in 1799, 
in which I had been provoked to make one of them feel the effect 
of our arms; and had they attempted any thing against my two men, 
we were prepared to have given them a volley from the boat which 
would probably have been a fearful confirmation of the truth of the 
report ; but happily for both parties, we were not reduced to the 

On rowing to Point Look-out, to continue the voyage, I found 
the wind so fresh from the southward that the greatest fatigue at 
the oars could advance us little ; we therefore rah to leeward of two 

Digitized by 


In the boat.} TERRA AUSTRALIS. 319 

rocks, lying a mile and a half north-west from the extremity of the 1803. 
point ; and having anchored there, arranged the boat so as that Tuesday so. 
every person might take a better night's rest than we had hitherto 
been able to enjoy. 

At dayjight, the wind being light and variable, we proceeded Wcdncs.3N 
along the coast by using both sails and oars. The weather was dull, \ 
and prevented an observation at noon for the latitude ; but a sight 
of Mount Warning at dusk showed that our progress was equal to 
expectation. We then had a gentle breeze from the north-east- ' 

ward ; and at ten o'clock, passed close to a projection of land which 
I supposed to be Point Danger, without seeing any breakers ; it is 
therefore probable, that the reef laid down by captain Cook does not 
join to the land, for we kept a good look out, and the night was 
tolerably fine. 

At five on the following morning we passed Cape Byron, with September. 
a breeze at north-west, and at noon had made a hundred miles by ltand * 1 - 
our reckoning from Point Look-out; the observed latitude was then 
*9° 16', and the land near Shoal Bay was three leagues distant. We 
continued steering to the southward, in high spirits at being so 
favoured by the northern winds, which there was so little reason to 
expect ; and at eight in the evening reached abreast of the Solitary 
Isles. Smoky Cape was in sight next morning ; but the wind com- Friday 2. 
ing round to south, and blowing fresh with thick weather, we tacked 
towards the shore ; and at noon landed behind a small ledge of 
rocks, about three leagues short of the Cape. The distance run 
these twenty-four hours was eighty five miles, and the southwardly 
current had moreover given its assistance. 

This ledge of rocks lies on the north side of a point upon 
which there are some hummocks ; and on ascending the highest, I 
saw a lagoon into which the tide flowed by a narrow passage on the 
inner side of the point. The pandanus grows here ; and as it was a 
tree unknown to Bongaree, this latitude (about 30 45*) is pro- 
bably near its southern limit. We took in a supply of fuel and 

Digitized by 


820 A VOYAGE TO {East Coast. 

i8os. gathered some fine oysters, and the wind dying away to a calm in 

Friday 2. the afternoon, rowed out for Smoky Cape ; but on reaching abreast 
of it the wind again rose a-head ; and at one in the morning we 
anchored in a Small bight at the extremity of the Cape, and remained 
until daylight. 

Saturday s. The wind was still contrary on the 3rd, nevertheless we stood 

out and beat to the southward until four in the afternoon ; when the 
sea having become too high for the boat, we anchored under the lee 
of a small projecting point, eight or ten leagues to the south of 
Smoky Cape ; which distance had been gained in about ten hours, 
principally by means of the current. 

Sunday 4. On the 4th, we again attempted to beat to the southward; but 

the wind being light as well as foul, and the sea running high, not 
much was gained ; at noon the weather threatened so much, that it 
became necessary to look out for a place of shelter, and we steered 
into a bight with rocks in it, which I judge to have been on the north 
side of Tacking Point. At the head of the bight is a lagoon ; but 
the entrance proving to be very shallow, and finding no security, we 
-continued on our voyage ; trusting that some place of shelter would 
present itself, if obliged to seek it by necessity. Towards evening 

Monday 5. ,the wind and weather became more favourable; in the morning, the 

Three. Brothers were in sight ; and at noon I observed the latitude 

31 5/, when the middlemost of these hills bore N. N. W. and our 

distance offshore was two or three leagues. 

(Atlas, At this time the wind blew a moderate sea breeze at E. S. E., 

P1.V1H.) c a pe Hawke was seen soon afterward, and at eight in the evening 
we steered between Sugar-loaf Point and the two rocks lying from 

Tuesday 6. it three or four miles to the south-east. At four next morning, 
passed the islands at the entrance of Port Stephens, and at noon the 
Coal Island in the mouth of Port Hunter bore N. W. byN. ; the 
wind then shifted more to the southward, with squally weather, and 
both prevented the boat from lying along the coast and made it 
unsafe to be at sea. After struggling till four in the afternoon, with 

Digitized by 


In the hoot] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 321 

little advantage, we bore up to look for shelter behind some of the 1803 - 


small projecting points ; and almost immediately found it in a shal- Tuesday g. 
low cove, exposed only 'to the north-eastward. This was the 
eleventh day of our departure from Wreck Reef, and the distance 
of Port Jackson did not now exceed fifty miles. 

At this place we -slept on shore for the first time; but the 
weather being squally, rainy, and cold, and the boat's sails our best 
shelter, it was not with any great share of comfort ; a good watch 
was kept during' the night, but no molestation was received from 
the natives. Notwithstanding our cramped-up position in the boat, 
and exposure to all kinds of weather, we enjoyed excellent health ; 
one man excepted, upon whom the dysentery, which had made such 
ravages in the Investigator, now returned with some violence. 

A cask of water was filled on the morning of the 7th, and our Wcdnes. r« 
biscuit being all expended or spoiled, some cakes were baked in the 
ashes for our future subsistence. At eleven o'clock, the rain having 
cleared away, we stood out to the offing with light baffling winds, 
and towards evening were enabled to lie along the coast ; but the 
breeze at south-east not giving much assistance, we took to the oars 
and laboured hard all the following night, being animated with the 
prospect of a speedy termination to our voyage. The north head of 
Broken Bay was in sight next morning, and at noon the south head Thursday s. 
ivas abreast of the boat; a sea breeze then setting in at E. N. E., we 
crowded all sail for Port Jackson, and soon after two o'clock had the 
happiness to enter between the heads. 

The reader has perhaps never gone 250 leagues at sea in an 
open boat, or along a strange coast inhabited by savages ; but if he 
recollect the eighty officers and men upon Wreck-Reef Bank, 
arid how important was our arrival to their safety, and to the saving 
of the charts, journals, and papers of the Investigator's voyage, he 
may have some idea of the pleasure we felt, but particularly myself, 
at entering our destined port. 

I proceeded immediately to the town of Sydney, and went 
vol. 11. Tt 

Digitized by 


822 A VOYAGE TO [Eaet Cda$t 

1803. with captain Park to wait upon His Excellency governor King, 
Thursday 8. whom we found at dinner with his family. A razor had not passed 
over our faces frokn the time of the shipwreck, and the surprise of 
the governor was not little at seeing two persons thus appear whom 
he supposed to be many hundred'leagues on their way to England; 
but so soon as he was convinced of the truth of the vision before 
him, and learned the melancholy cause, an involuntary tear started 
from the eye of friendship and compassion, and we were received in 
the most affectionate manner. 

His Excellency lost no time in engaging the ship Rolla, then 
lying in port, bound to China, to go to the rescue of the officers and 
crews of the F^rpoise and Cato ; I accompanied the governor on 
board the Rolla a day or two afterwards, and articles were signed 
by which the commanded, Mr. Robert Cumming, engaged to call at 
Wreck Reef, take every person on board and carry them to Canton, 
upon terms which showed him to take the interest in our misfortune 
which might be expected from a British seaman. The governor 
ordered two colonial schooners to accompany the Rolla, to bring 
back those who preferred returning to Port Jackson, with such stores 
of the Porpoise as could be procured ; and every thing was done 
that an anxious desire to forward His Majesty's service and alleviate 
misfortune could devise; even private individuals put wine, live stock, 
and vegetables, unasked, on board the Rolla for the officers Upon the 

My anxiety to get back to Wreck Reef, and from thence to 
England with the greatest despatch, induced the governor to offer 
me one of the schooners to go through Torres' Strait and by the 
most expeditious passage to Europe; rather than take the lpng route 
hy China in the Rolla. This schooner was something less than a 
Gratveseftd passage boat, being only of twenty-nine tons burthen % 
ahd therefore it required some consideration before acceding to the 
proposal. Her small size, when compared with the distance from 
Port Jackson to England, was not my greatest objection to the little 

Digitized by 


Port Jackson.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 328 

Cumberland ; it was the quickness of her motion and the want of „ 18(Kr - 


convenience, which would prevent the charts and journal of my 
voyage from being prepared on. the passage, and render the whole 
so much time lost to this important object. On the other hand, the 
advantage of again passing through, and collecting more information 
of Torres' Strait, and of arriving in England three or four months 
sooner to commence the outfit of another ship, were important con- 
siderations ; and joined to some ambition of being the first to under- 
take so long a voyage in such a small vessel, and a desire to put an 
early stop to the account which captain Palmer would probably give 
of our total loss, they proved sufficient inducements to accept thp 
governor's offer, on finding his vessel bad the character of being a 
strong, good little sea boat. 

The Cumberland was at that time absent up the river Hawkes- 
bury , and the Francis, the other schooner, was lying on shore and could 
not be gdt off before the following spring tides ; on these accounts, 
and from the Rolla not being quite fitted, it was thirteen days after 
my arrival in the boat before the whole could be ready to sail. This 
delay caused me much uneasiness, under the apprehension that we 
might not arrive before our friends at the reef, despairing of assist- 
ance, should have made some unsuccessful attempt to save themselves; 
and this idea pursued me so much, that every day seemed to be a 
week until I got out of the harbour with the three vessels. 

Governor King's answer to my communication respecting the 
shipwreck of the Porpoise and Qito, and the orders under which I x 
acted in embarking in the Cumberland, are contained in the follow- 
ing letter. 

Sydney, New South Wales, Sept. 17, 1803. 


In acknowledging the receipt of yours with its inclosure of the 9th 
instant, whilst I lament the misfortune that has befallen the Porpoise and 
Cato, I am thankful that no more lives have been lost than the three you men- 
tion, I have every reason to be assured that no precaution w$s omitted by 

Digitized by 


324 A VOYAGE TO [East Coast. 

1803. lieutenant Fowler and yourself to avoid the accident, and I am equally 

September. J J 

satisfied with your account of the exertions of the officers and men after the 

loss of the ships, both for the pre servation of the stores and maintaining order 
in their present situation ; nor can I sufficiently commend your voluntary 
services and those who came with you, in undertaking a voyage of 700 miles 
in an open boat, to procure relief for our friends now on the bank ; and I 
hope for the honour of humaqity, that if the Bridgewater be safe, the com- 
mander may be able to give some possible reason for his not ascertaining 
whether any had survived the shipwreck, as there appears too much reason 
to believe he has persuaded himself all perished. 

No time has been lost in prevailing upon the master of the Rolla, bound 
to China, to take on board the officers and seamen now on the reef, belong- 
ing to the Porpoise and Investigator, and carrying them to Canton whither 
he is bound ; on the conditions expressed in the agreement entered into 
with him by me, and which you have witnessed. For that purpose I have 
caused a proportion of all species of provisions to be put on board at full 
allowance, for seventy men for ten weeks from the reef ; I shall also give 
to lieutenant Fowler the instructions for his conduct which I have com- 
municated to you, and direct him to consult with you on the measures to be 
adopted by him for executing those instructions, as far as situation and events 
may render them practicable. 

And as you agree with me that the Cumberland, colonial schooner of 
twenty-nine tons, built here, is capable of performing the voyage to Eng- 
land by way of Torres' Strait, and it being essential to the furthering His 
Majesty's service that you should reach England by the most prompt con- 
veyance with your charts and journals, I have directed the commissary to 
make that vessel over to you, with her present furniture, sails, &c. ; and to 
complete her from the stores of the Investigator with such other articles as 
you may require, together with a proportion of provisions for six months, fof 
ten officers and men. And on your arrival at Wreck Reef you will select 
such officers and men as you may judge necessary, lieutenant Powler having 
my orders on that head. 

After having given every assistance to get the people and as many 
stores as can be taken on btmrd the Rolla, and given the commander of the 
Francis sehooner such orders as circumstances may require, for bringing 
those who may choose to be discharged from the service and as many stores 

Digitized by 


Port Jackson.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 325 

as she can bring, you will then proceed to England by the route you may 18Q3. 
judge most advisable and beneficial for His Majesty's service. On your 
arrival in London you will deliver my letters to the Admiralty and the prin- 
cipal secretary of state for the colonies. 

In case any unforeseen circumstances should prevent the accomplish- 
ment of the voyage in the Cumberland, you will take such measures as may 
appear most conducive to the interest of His Majesty's service, either by 
selling the vessel, or letting her for freight at the Cape or elsewhere, if any 
merchants choose to send proper officers and men to conduct her back ; and 
in the event of your being obliged to dispose of her, you will account with 
His Majesty's principal secretary of state for the colonies for the proceeds. 

lam, &c, 

Signed) Philip Gidley King. 

The small size of the Cumberland made it necessary to stop 
at every convenient place on the way to England, for water and 
refreshment ; and I proposed Coepang Bay in Timor, Mauritius, the- 
Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena, and some one of the Western Isles ; 
but governor King objected to Mauritius, from not wishing to en- 
courage any communication between the French colonies and Port 
Jackson ; and also because he had understood that hurricanes often 
prevailed in the neighbourhood of that island, about the time of 
year when I should be passing ; he left this matter*, however, to be 
decided by necessity and my judgment, and gave me two letters for 
the governor of Mauritius, to be forwarded from the Cape, or by 
the best opportunity. At those places in the Indian Seas where I 
might stop, he requested me to make inquires into the facility of 
obtaining cattle for his colony, with the price and the traffic with 
which they might be best procured ; and to send this information 
*t>y any ship bound to Port Jackson. 

Every thing being prepared for our departure, I sailed out of 
the harbour in the Cumberland on the « 1st at daylight, with the Wednes, si. 
Rplla and Francis in company. Mr. Inman, the astronomer, had 

Digitized by 


St« A VOYAGE TO [East Coart. 

1803. taken a passage in the Rolla with his instruments.; and of the thir- 

September. r -© 

Wednea. 21. teen persons who cahie with me in the boat, captain Park and his 
second mate were on board that ship, and the boatswain of the Inves- 
tigator with the ten seamen composed my crew in the schooner. 
We had a fresh breeze at south-east, and the Cumberland appeared 
to sail as well as could be expected ; but the wind becoming stronger 
towards night, she lay over so much upon the broad side that little 
sail could be carried ; and instead of being tight, as had been re- 
presented, her upper works then admitted a great deal of water. 

Thursday 22 Next morning, the wind having rather increased than diminished, I 
found we should soon be obliged to lie to altogether, and that if we 
passed Port Stephens there was no place of shelter for a long dis- 
tance where the schooner could be saved from drifting on shore ; the 
signal was therefore made to tack, and at dusk the Rolla and Francis 
ran into Port Stephens. Not being able to reach so far, I anchored 
in a small bight under Point Stephens, in very bad plight ; the pumps 
proving to be so nearly useless, that we could not prevent the water 
from half filling the hold ; and two hours longer would have reduced 
us to baling with buckets, and perhaps have been fatal. This essay 
did not lead me to think favourably of tfie vessel, in which I had 
undertaken a voyage half round the globe'. 
Friday 23. Next morning I joined the Rolla and Francis j and it being 

then calm, we did not quit Port Stephens until the afternoon. At 
night the wind again blew strong from the south-east ; but the 
desire to arrive at Wreck Reef overcoming my apprehensions, the 
schooner was made snug and we persevered. Our inability to carry 
sail was so much the more provoking, that this wind was as fair as 
could be wished ; but whilst the Cumberland could scarcely bear a 
close-reefed main sail and jib .without danger of oversetting, the 
Rolla went along under double-reefed top sails in great tranquillity ; 
and to avoid parting company was obliged to keep her courses up, 
and to back a top sail from time to time. 

Satmday 24. The wind moderated next day, and allowed us to make better 

Digitized by 


Towards Wreck Reef.] TERRA AIJSTR ALIS. 327 

progress. It afterwards veered round to the north-east, aad pre- ge ^^ 
vented us from fetching more than ten miles to the east of the reef Saturday 24. 
by Mr. Inman's time keeper, when we came into the proper latitude, p^te x.) 
We bore away for it, however, on Ofct. 1, and ran more than a der October. 
gree to the west ; when findiag no reef or bank, it appeared that we 
must have been something to the west of Wreck Reef when the 
time keeper showed ten miles to the eastward. This obliged us to 
work back again, and it was not till the 7th that we got sight of the Friday 7. 
ensign upon the top of the bank.* 

It was six weeks on this day that I had quitted the reef in the 
boat, for the purpose of seeking the means to relieve my officers and 
people. The bank was first seen from the Rolla's mast head, and 
soon afterward two boats were perceived under sail ; and advancing 
nearer, we saw one boat make for the Rolla and the other returning 
to the bank. The Porpoise had not yet gone to pieces; btit was 
still lying on her beam ends, high up on the reef, a frail, but impres- 
sive monument of our misfortune. 

In the afternoon I anchored under the Jee of the bank, in 18 
fathoms coral sand, and a salute of eleven guns from it was immer 
diately fired, the carronades of the Porpoise having been transported 
from the wreck. On landing, I was greeted with three hearty cheers, 
and the utmost joy by my pfficers ,and people ; and the pleasure of 
rejoining my companions so amply provided with the means of re- 
lieving their distress, made this one of the happiest moments of 
my life. 

* The want of my journal has prevented me from stating any particulars of this pas- 
sage very correctly; but I have lately obtained a sight of Mr. Ionian's observations, and 
it appears fitim them that his time keeper (Kendal's No. 45) erred 31' to the e*st on Oct. 
1, and that on the 2d a./n. our corrected longitude was 153° 52*. We ran westward till 
that evening, and must' therefore have gone to about 153 # 25% or 1° 54' west of Wreck- 
Reef Bank ; and as no dangers were seen, this shows how completely the Reef is separ- 
ated from the great Barrier of the coast 5 a point which it j& afcojne importance to have 

Digitized by LjOOQ IC 

828 A VOYAGE TO [East Court. 

1805. The two boats we had seen, were the- Porpoise's remaining 

Friday 7. cutter and a new boat constructed during my absence ; it was just 
completed, and lieutenant Fowler had this morning gone out to try 
its sailing against the cutter. My safe arrival at Port Jackson became 
* a subject of much doubt after the first month ; and they had begun 
to reconcile their minds to making the best use of the means they 
possessed to reach some frequented port. The Rolla's top-gallant 
sail was first seen in the horizon by a man in the new boat, and was 
taken for a bird ; but regarding it more steadfastly, he started up 
and exclaimed, d — n my bl — d what's that ! It was soQn recognised 
to be a sail, and caused a general acclamation ox* joy, for they doubted 
not it was a ship coming to their succour. Lieutenant Flinders, then 
commanding,officer on the bank, was in his tent calculating some lunar 
distances, when one of the young gentlemen ran to him, calling, " Sir, 
Sir ! A ship and two schooners in sight l" After a little consideration, 
Mn Flinders said he supposed it was his brother come back, and 
asked if the vessels were near ? He was answered, not yet ; upon 
which he desired to be informed when they should reach the anchor- 
age, and very calmly resumed his calculations : such are the varied 
effects produced by the same circumstance upon different minds. 
When the desired report was made, he ordered the salute to be fired, 
and took part in the general satisfaction. 

My plan of proceeding at the reef having been arranged on 
the passage, I immediately began to put it in execution. The people 
were assembled on the bank, and informed that such as chose to be 
discharged from the service might return to Port Jackson in the 
Francis schooner; and that the rgst would be taken on board the 
Rolla and carried to China, with the exception of ten officers and 
men whom I named, to go to England with me in the Cumberland, 
if they would risk themselves in so small a vessel ; for notwithstand- 
ing what had been discovered of the bad qualities of the schooner, 
I determined to proceed, at least so far as to reach some port where 
a passage might be procured in a better vessel without losing time. 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 329 

The determinations of all were required to be given on the following Q^jf^ 
day ; and in the mean time we began to take on board the few Friday 7. 
stores necessary to complete the Cumberland for our voyage, and 
especially to fill the holds with water, of which there was yet a good 
quantity remaining on the bank. 

On the 10th, three days after our arrival, the Rolla had re- Monday 10. 
ceived the people destined for her, with part of the provisions and 
stores; and the Cumberland was ready to sail. All those whom I 
had named, with the exception of my clerk, volunteered to go in the 
schooner ; viz., Mr. John Aken, master, and Mr. Edward Char- 
rington, boatswain of the Investigator, my servant, and seven chosen 
seamen. A cask containing what had been saved of my specimens 
of mineralogy and conchology was taken on board, as also the charts, 
books, and papers of every kind, with the instruments received from 
the Navy Board and the sole time keeper which had not stopped. 

Mr. Denis Lacy, master's mate of the Investigator, desiring 
to return to Port Jackson, he was charged with my letter to His 
Excellency governor King ; , and I gave him an order to command 
the new boat. It was about the size of the Cumberland, had a deck, 
and was called the Resource ; and we manned her with a part of those 
people whose choice led them back to Port Jackson. I ordered Mr. 
James Aikin, commander of the Francis, and Mr. Lacy, to take on 
board for the colony as much of the stores as they should be able ; 
and on their arrival, to make a statement to the governor of the con- 
dition in which they might leave the Porpoise, and what remained 
on the bank. 

The officers journals, which were to be sent to the Admiralty 
at the conclusion of the voyage, had not been demanded at the time 
of our shipwreck ; lieutenant Fowler was therefore directed to take 
all that were saved belonging to the officers embarked with him 
in the Rolla ; and lest any accident should happen to the Cumber- 
land, I committed to his charge a copy of four charts, being all of 
the East and North Coasts which there had been time to get ready ; 


Digitized by 


330 A VOYAGE TO [East Camt. 

1803, with these he took a short letter to the secretary of the Admiralty, 
Monday io. and one to the Victualling Board inclosing such vouchers as had been 
saved from the wreck. To Mr. Inman I gave the remaining instru- 
ments belonging to the Board of Longitude, reserving only a time 
keeper and a telescope ; the large and most valuable instruments had 
very fortunately been delivered to hifn before we had sailed from 
Port Jackson in the Porpoise. 

These matters being arranged, I pressed captain Cumming to 
depart, fearing <h£t a change of Wind might expose the Rolia to 
danger; but finding him desirous to take off more provisions and 
Stores, I made sail for a bank or rather islet sevgn miles distant, at 
the eastern ^"xtremity of Wreck Reef, for the purpose of collecting 
sea-birds eggs, and if possible taking a turtle. The Rolla joined on 
Tuesday ii. the following day, and I went on board to take leave of Messrs. 
Fowler and Flinders and the other officers and gentlemen ; at noon 
we parted company with three cheers, the Rolla steering north-east- 
ward for China, whilst my course was directed for Torres' Strait. 

With the time keeper, Earnshaw's No. 520, I had received 
frorti lieutenant Flinders an account of its error from mean Green- 
wich time at noon there Oct. 6, and its rate of going during the 
fourteen preceding days?, which were as under. 

No. 520, slow o h 9' 49",35 and losing 34<",i3 P<* day. 

The latitude of Wreck-Reef Bank was ascer- 
tained from eight meridian observations from 
the sea, and four from an artificial horizon : ' 
the mean of the latter, which are considered 
the best, is - - - 22*ii / 23' / S. 

Longitude from sixty sets of lunar distances, » 

of which the individual results are given in 
Table VIII. of the Appendix No. I. to this 
volume, - - - - 155 18 50,5 E. 

The longitude of the bank, as given by Earnshaw's No. 520 
on Aug, 28, eleven days after the shipwreck, was 155 4/, 14," ,6 

Digitized by 




with the Port Jackson rate, or 14/ 35",^ less th*n the lunar observa- ( "oj^ 
tions. In laying down the Porpoise's track on the chart, this error 
has been corrected by an equal proportion, according to the time 
of each observation for the longitude, 

Mr. Flinders deduced the variation, of the compass from ob- 
serving the sun's magnetic azimuth a. m. zndp.wi., when equal alti- 
tudes were taken, and comparing the mean azimuth at correspond- 
ing altitudes with the true meridian; this method is probably not the 
best, and the results from two compasses differed considerably; 
Walker's compass, marked No. 1, giving 9° 17' east from ten ob- 
servations, and that marked No. a, 13° 54/ from five observations. 
The first is undoubtedly. the best, though possibly not very correct- 
There are here two regular tides daily, and it was high water 
on the day of full moon at 8* 50' in the morning ; the rise was six feet 
two inches, but the night tide will probably reach to eight, or per- 
haps nine feet at the height of the springs. 

Some account was given of Wreck-Reef Bank before quitting 
it in the boat, but I had not then acquired a knowledge of the whole 
extent of the reef. It is about twenty miles long, and from a quar- 
ter, to one mile and a half in breadth; and consists of many distinct 
patches of different magnitudes, the six principal of which are from 
four to eight or ten miles in circuit. They are separated by channels 
of one mile to near a league in width ; and in the two easternmost 
I found from 8 to 10 fathoms, and nothing to prevent a ship passing 
through in a case of necessity. Four of the six larger patches have 
each a sand bank near the middle, which do not appear to have been 
lately covered by the tide; and they are now more or less frequented 
by sea birds, such as noddies, boobies, tropic, and man-of-war birds, 
gannets, and perhaps some others. Of these four banks, two lie to 
the west and one to the east of that near which our ships struck ; 
but the eastern bank is the most considerable, and most frequented 
by birds ; turtle also land there occasionally, and this bank was not 
improperly called Bird Islet, being now covered with coarse grass, 

Digitized by 


382 A VOYAGE TO \East Coast. 

1803 - some shrubs, and a soil to which the birds are every day making an 

October. ° 


Bird Islet being to windward of, and only seven miles distant 
from our bank, it was frequently visited by the gentlemen during 
my absence. Besides sea birds of the species already mentioned, 
they procured many thousand eggs ; and also four turtle, of which 
one weighed 459 pounds, and contained so many eggs, that lieutenant 
Fowler's journal says no less than 1940, large and small, were 
counted. These supplies, with shell fish gathered from the reef, 
and fish, were a great resource, and admitted of a saving in the salt 
provisions ; as the occasional rains, from which several casks were 
filled, did of their fresh water. The trepang was found on Wreck 
Reef, and soup was attempted to be made of it ; but whether our 
cooks had not the method of stewing it down, or that the trepang is 
suited only to the vitiated taste of the Chinese, nothing good was 

Oats, maize, and pumpkin seeds were planted upon Wreck- 
Reef Bank, as also upon Bird Islet ; and the young plants had come 
up, and were in a tolerably flourishing state ; some of these may 
possibly succeed upon the islet, but upon the bank it is scarcely to 
be hoped. The cocoa nut is capable of resisting the light sprays of 
the sea which frequently pass over these banks, and it is to be re- 
gretted that we had none to plant upon them. A cluster of these 
majestic and useful palms would have been an excellent beacon to 
warn mariners of their danger; and in the case where darkness 
might render them unavailing in this respect, their fruit would at 
least afford some salutary nourishment to the shipwrecked seamen. 
The navigator who should distribute ten thousand cocoa nuts amongst 
the numerous sand banks of the Great Ocean and Indian Sea, would 
be entitled to the gratitude of all maritime nations, and of every 
friend to humanity. I may be thought to attribute too much im- 
portance to this object in saying, that such a distribution ought to be 
a leading article, in the instructions for any succeeding voyage of 

Digitized by 


Wreck Reef.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 838 

discovery or investigation to these parts ; but it is from having suf- 18a3 - 
fered ourselves that we learn to appreciate the misfortunes and wants 
of others, and become doubly interested in preventing or relieving 
them. " The human heart," as an elegant author observes, " re- 
" sembles certain medicinal trees, which yield not their healing balm 
" until they have themselves been wounded/'* 

* Le coeur est comrae ces sortes dferbres, qui ne donnent leur baume pour les blessures 
des hommes que lorsque le fer les a blesses eux-m&mes. Chateaubriant's Genie dt 
Chrtitianisme, Episode d? Attala. 

Digitized by 


884 A VOYAGE TO [EaA Coast. 


Passage in the Cumberland to Torres 9 Strait. Eastern Fields and Pan- 
dora's Entrance. New channels amongst the reefs. Anchorage at 
Half-way Island, and under the York Isles. Prince of Wales' Islands 
further examined. Booby Isle. Passage across the Gulph of Car- 
pentaria. Anchorage at Vessel's Islands. Passage to Coepang Bay, 
in Timor; and to Mauritius, where the leakiness of the Cumberland 
- makes it necessary to stop. Anchorage at the Baye du Cap, and depar- 
ture for Port Louis. 

9 . 

i8os. On parting from the Rolla, at noon Oct. n f off Bird Islet, our 
Tuesday li. course was steered N. N. W. by compass for Torres' Strait. At 
nateJO e *ght m the evening we had run thirteen leagues from Wreck Reef, 
without seeing any danger ; but I thought it advisable to lie to in 
the night, until the distance was further increased. We made sail 
Wcdnes. 12. again at five in the morning, and at noon were in ao° 46' south and 
15 5° *' e a $t. During the two following days and nights, our course 
by compass was N. W. byN., and afterwards N. W.; and on the 
Saturday 15. 15th at noon we had reached the latitude 15 *cf and longitude 
151 24/, the current having set, upon the average of four days, £ of 
a mile an hour to the W. N. W. This situation was a little to the 
north, and about one degree to the east of Bougainville's Bank of 
Diana, and the tropic birds, petrels, and boobies seen every day were 
this evening more numerous, especially the boobies ; they most pro- 
bably belonged to Diana's Bank, but lest some other might lie in our 
way, we hauled to the wind at eight o'clock. The little Cumberland 
was still very leaky at such times as the wind came more on the side 
and caused her to lie over; and the pumps were so bad that a fourth 

Digitized by 


Towards Torres' Strait.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 335 

part of the day was frequently required at thera to Iceep her free, and 18 o3* 
they were becoming worse from such constant use. 

Our north-west course was resumed at five in the morning, Sunday i6. 
and continued without interruption, or sight of any danger, to the 
l^th at noon, when the latitude was io° 53' south, and longitude by Wedaes. 19. 
time keeper* 147 6' east ; the current had set above £ of a mile an 
hour to the N.^5o° W., and we iiad every day sten boobies, noddies, 
tropic birds, and some gulls. At four in the afternoon the -course 
was altered one >pointmore west, in order to make the Eastejm 'Fields, Hate xiir.) 
whose extent to the southward, net having been seen m the Investi- 
gator, I wished now to ascertain. The breakers came in sight at 
eight next morning, and We hauled up to pass round their south end ; Thursdays, 
but the wind being scant for going to windward of all, and the small 
gap before seen in the middle appearing to be passable for the Cum- 
berland, we bore up for it. The depth at less than a quarter of a 
mile off was 40 fathoms, then <6, 7, 4 in the centre of the opening, 
8, and no ground with the hand line ; this front reef seeming to be 
a mere ledge of coral, which extended N. N.^E. and S. S. W. ; and 
that part of the opening in it where the sea did not break, is about 
one mile wide. Immediately on getting through, altitudes were 
taken for the time keeper; and the. longitude, reduced to the north- 
east extremity of the Eastern Fields, was 145 44^' east, or about 
1' less than what had been found in the investigator from Broad Sound. 

In steering W. N. W\, two small patches of reef were left to 
the south and one to the north, about five miles from the opening; 
other reefs then came in sight a-head and on each bow ; and after 
sounding in 34 fathoms coral sand, and observing the latitude id «y', 
we passed through a narrow channel between them, having no 
ground at 7 fathoms. At one o'clock , the western extremity of these 
reefs bore S. 16 E. two miles, and others were seen in the horizon 
extending from N. W. to W. S. W. ; we passed close round the 
north end of these ; but the single breaker laid down the year be- 
fore, and which should lie about five miles to the N. N.JE., was not 

Digitized by 


33ft A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803. perceived. At three o'clock, in steering westward, the last reefs 
Thursdayso. were out of sight astern ; and nothing more had been seen at seven, 
when we hauled to the wind for the night. An amplitude observed 
at sunset, with the schooner's head W* by S., gave 6° s' east variation. 
Friday 9i. We tacked every, two or three hours, until daylight; and 

then bore away W. S. W. by compass, to make the south side of the 
Pandora's Entrance, which I had not seen in the Investigator. Soon 
after eight o'clock, breakers came in sight; and we stood off and on 
till noon, to fix their latitude and longitude, and ascertain our posi- 
tion with respect to Murray's Islands before entering the Strait. 
The sun was vertical, and therefore difficult to be observed ; but in 
taking Mr. Aken's observation on one side and mine on the other, 
which differed only 3y , the mean latitude io° o^', could not be far 
wrong. The reef in sight was shown by this observation to be on 
the south side of the Pandora's Entrance, as I wished ; and its north 
end will lie in io° 59' south, and longitude by the time keeper 
144 40' east. We bore away so soon as the observation was ob- 
tained, and in passing close round the north end, got soundings at 
two casts, in 7 and 5 fathoms. 

This reef lies N. N. E. and S. S. W., and is about seven miles 
long with a breadth from one to three miles; its form is nearly that 
of a boot, and the outer edges are probably dry at low tide; but 
there was a considerable space within, where the water looked blue, 
as if very deep. The origin of that class of islands which abound in 
the Great Ocean, under the names of Bow, Lagoon, &c, may here 
be traced. The exterior bank of coral will, in the course of years, 
become land, as in them ; whilst the interior water will preserve its 
depth to a longer period, and form a lagoon, with no other outlet 
than perhaps one or two little openings for canoes or boats. In 
Mr. Dalrymple's chart of the Pandora's track, there is a dry bank 
marked on the north-west part of the reef; but this commencement 
of the metamorphosis was not visible to us, probably from its being 
covered by the tide, for it was then near high water. In some future 

Digitized by 


Torres' Strait.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 337 

age, when Boot Island shall be visited, this little remark, if it live so »so3. 

6 ' 11 October. 

long, may be of some interest to the geographer. Friday si. 

. I hauled up under the lee side of the reef, intending to anchor 
and go in a boat to sound the deep water within ; but not finding any 
ground with 70 fathoms at a mile off, we bore away at two o'clock 
to make Murray's Islands. At three, breakers were seen four or 
five miles to the southward, and others, perhaps on the same reef, 
about three miles W. S. W. from them; in half an hour the largest 
of Murray's Islands came in sight to the W. by N. ; and our course 
being continued to six o'clock, the centre then bore N. 78 W. nearly 
four leagues, but the front reefs, which could not be more than half 
that distance in the same direction, were not visible. We then 
hauled to the wind, and stood off and on till daylight, when the Saturday 23. 
largest island bore W. by S. 

Murray's Islands may be considered as the key to the best 
passage yet known through Torres' Strait, and my route to them in 
the Investigator being circuitous, I wished to ascertain whether a 
more direct track might not be found ; we therefore steered to make 
the north-eastern reefs, and on coming in with the breakers, ran 
along their south side at the distance of one or two miles. At half 
past seven, the termination of these reefs bore N. N. W. ; but another 
reef, which extended far to the south, had for some time been in 
sight, and a dry sand on its north end now bore S. W. by W. one 
mile. In t the opening between them was a small patch of coral, 
and several green spots in the water round it ; but there appear- 
ing to be room for the Cumberland to pass on the north side, I 
ventured through, sounding in 20 and 23 fathoms without finding 

This opening is a mile wide, and lies five or six miles, nearly 
E.-N. E., from the largest of Murray's Islands; it would conse- 
quently be more direct to pass through it than to follow the Investi- 
gator's track round the north-eastern reefs ; but from the narrow- 
ness of the opening and the many green spots where the depth is 
vol^i. X x 

Digitized by 


338 A VOYAGE TO [Mrth Co as 

q 80 ^ unknown to me, I dare not recommend it to a ship, though very 
Saturday 22. practicable for small vessels in fine weather. The dry bank on the 
south side of the opening will probably be covered at three-quarters 

After clearing the passage, I steered W. N. W. to avoid going 
near Murray's Islands, lest the small size of the Cumberland should 
tempt the Indians to make an attack ; this they were likely to do if 
the opportunity offered, and many were standing on the shore with 
their canoes seemingly in readiness. At 8 h 50' the large island bore 
S. 6° E. to 13 W., three or four miles ; and our position in longitude 
being very nearly the same with that of my former anchorage, alti- 
tudes wefe taken for the time keeper. The result, when corrected, 
was 144 s' o" east, and in the Investigator it had been 144* *' 58", 
being a difference scarcely worth notice. Wlien it is considered that 
Wreck Reef, whence the Cumberland's departure was taken, and 
Coepang in Timor, by which the longitude is corrected, are laid 
down from observations wholly distinct from those at Upper Head 
and Sweers* Island, which regulated the Investigator's longitude, 
this near coincidence will be thought remarkable ; and it must also 
be allowed to show, that an equally accelerated rate and supple- 
mental correction are improvements on the ordinary management ' 
of time keepers. 

At this time, the large reef to the north of Murray's Islands 
was distant one or two miles, and we steered westward along \t 4 to 
get into my former track ; but the man at the mast head saying 
that the water was discoloured, and that he did not think there was 
any passage in the direction we steered, I thought myself deceived 
in the distance of the island ; and the schooner was hauled up two 
points to the southward, where the appearance was better. It be- 
came evident, however, that the discoloured water was in the same 
ripplings of tide through which the Investigator had passed without 
finding bottom at 30 fathoms; and no doubt it was from these 
ripplings that the discolouring arose. 

Digitized by 


Torres* Strait.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 389 

At ten o'clock, the top of the largest island bore S. 74* E. five i«». 


or six miles, we had reefs at the distance of half a mile to a mile on Saturday 22. 
each beam, and I then found that we were to the south of the Inves- 
. tigator's track ; but the channel being clear a-head, and taking a 
direction nearly straight for Cape York, I steered onward, being 
rather pleased than sorry at having thus got by accident into a new 
route. Darnley's Island was seen from the mast head before eleven; 
and when the top of Murray's Island bore E. i 6 S. it was set at 
N. N. W. , the depth being then 5s fathoms on a bottom of sfrnall stones, 
coral, and shells. The great line of reefs which had been kept on 
the larbord beam of the Investigator, was now on the starbord beam 
of the schooner; but we had also a great mass of reefs on the other 
side, forming between them a kind of channel frorti two to fout 
miles broad, leading south-westward. We ran on at the rate of five 
knots until noon, when the depth was a$ fathoftis, soft sand, and 
our situation as under, 

Latitude observed to the south, - 9 58^ 

Longitude brought on, - - 143 45 

Murray's L, top of the largest, N. ^8 E. 

-*— south-westernmost, - N. 8a E. 

The channel was now five or six miles wide, and no interrup- 
tion yet appeared; but breakers were seen a-head before two o'clock, 
and seemed to connect the reefs to leeward with those on the 
weather side ; mid there being a small opening on the starbord beam, 
we bore away north-west through it, towards the Investigator's track* 
Other reefs, however, obstructed the way, upon one of which was a 
dry bank ; and seeing a sort of middle channel within them, we 
hauled up W. by S. into it, and afterwards S. W. The sea did not 
break upon these reefs, and the sun being on the starbord bow, pre- 
vented us from knowing how they lay to leeward. At four, the 
coral bottom was seen under the schooner, and the depth was no 
more than a fathoms ; we tacked immediately, and in ten minutes 
were able to weather the end of the reef at the outlet of the middle 

Digitized by 


340 A VOYAGE TO [North Coast. 

1803. channel, where no obstruction appeared ; but a bank, probably not 

October. ' „ -i . . .11 

8atuiday22. of coral, was found to run across, and in passing over it we had 3, 
ij, a, 3, 8 fathoms, and in five minutes 22 on a soft bottom. A 
swell was then perceived coming from E. S. E., which showed that 
the weather reefs also there terminated; it even implied that the 
waves had no obstruction for many miles, probably as far as the 
great outer reef seen by the Pandora. 

Half-way Island came in sight as soon as the middle channel 
was cleared, and we steered west, carrying all sail to reach it before 
dark. In passing round the north end of its reef at sunset, we had 
18 fathoms, and presently anchored in 20, with the centre of the 
island bearing S. by E. \ E. one mile, and the reef from E. £ S. tp 
Sunday 23. S. W. by S. Next morning at daylight, Mr. Aken went on shore 
to bring off some shells of the large cockle (chama gigas ) , which the 
Indians place under the pandanus trees to catch water, and on his 
return at eight o'clock, we resumed our course to the south-west- 
ward, passing between some dry sands before seen in the Investi- 
jgator. I then kept up more southward to fetch the York Isles, and 
this took us between two other sands surrounded with small reefs* 
There were many birds, and a pole was standing up on the northern 
f bank ; and the wind becoming very light, an anchor was dropped 

in 14 fathoms under the west side, and I went on shore. 

This bank or key was very little above high water ; but a 
young pandanus had been planted on the top and surrounded with a 
circle of stones, apparently to protect it from the turtle, whose tracks 
were fresh on the sand. It appeared from thence, that the Indians 
come here at times ; and this tree had been planted with a view, most 
probably, to obtain fresh water by the same means as at Half-way 
Island. The latitude of the bank, according to Mr. Aken's meridian 
observation, is io° i8 ; south, longitude by the time keeper 143 6' 
east, and there is a similar bank lying two or three miles to the 

On my return the south-east trade had freshened up, and we 

Digitized by 


Torres 9 Strait.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 341 

steered S. W. by compass, in soundings from 13 to 11 fathoms, soft Q *^*' r 
ground. Some of the small woody isles before laid down, were seen Sunday 23, 
to the north-westward, but nothing else till four o'clock ; the high 
flat-topped York Isle them came in sight, and at six the following 
bearings were set. 

Mount Adolphus, the flat top, - - S. 33 W. 

Two rocks on its south side, - - - S. 17 W. 
Western York Isle, the north end, - - S. 69 W. 
A low distant isle (from the mast head), - S £ E. 
I purposed anchoring between the flat-topped island and the western 
isle ; but several rocks being seen there, and the night coming on, 
we bore away to leeward of the rocks and came to in 13 fathoms, 
soon after seven o'clock. The tide was setting to the westward, and 
so continued till half past nine, when it turned to the east, and ran 
till half past three in the morning ; if the rise by the sfyore corres- Monday 24. 
ponded with the stream, it was high water three hours and a half after 
the moon's passage ; which would be five hours later than at Mur- 
ray's Islands, and one hour earlier than it had appeared to be at 
those of the Prince of Wales (see p. 119). A fresh breeze from 
south-east raised a swell here, but the anchor held all night ; and > 
before geting under way next morning, I set the following bearings 
of the land. 

Flat-topped L, distant three miles - - S. 42°to a°E. 

————— , centre of Mount Adolphus, S. 32 E. 

C. York, outer of three islets near the E. extreme,' S. 2 E. 

Western York I., distant i£ miles, - - S. 18 to 88 W. 

Northern double L, imperfectly from aloft, N. W. by W.£ W. 
On passing the north end of the western isle at seven o'clock, 
I took altitudes for the time keeper/ and from thence deduced the 
longitude of Mount Adolphus to be 142 40' east ; we then hauled 
up for Cape York, with soundings between 14 and 10 fathoms, 
leaving on the starbord hand a rock which lies S. 78 W. five miles 
from the north end of the western isle. At half past eight, two rocks 
close to the northern extremity of the Cape were distant four or 

1 - 

Digitized by 


348 A VOYAGE TO {North Coast. 

oltoter ** ve m ^ es > ^ e P" 1 ^ 6 of Wales's Islands were coming in sight, and 
Monday «4. the following, bearings were taken. 

Western York Isle, north end, N. 70 E. 

C. York, north extreme, - - - & 58 E. 

■ , hill at the north-west extreme, - S. 11 W. 

Possession Isle, apparently, of capt. Cook, S. a6° to 33 W. 
Northern double Isle, centre, - North. 

On the largest of the Prince of Wales' Islands was a hill forming 
something like two horns at the top ; we steered a direct course for 
this hill, and perceived a bight or opening two miles to the south of 
it, by which the sea may probably have a communication with the 
water before observed within the great island. From abreast of 
- Horned Hill we followed the line of the shore northward, in sound- 
ings from 4 to 7 fathoms at one or two miles off; and soon after 
ten o'clock hauled west into the opening between this land and 
Wednesday Island, to pass through the middle of the group. Our 
soundings were variable between 5 and 3 fathoms, until approaching 
Hammond's Island ; when there not appearing to be depth enough 
on its south side, I steered out northward, leaving a rock on the 
starbord hand within which there wasr only 2 fathoms. 

This rock seems to be the small, dark-coloured island described 
by Mr. Hamilton as being near the centre of Sandwich Sound ( see 
Introd. p. xviii) ; and if so, Wolf's Bay, in which he say? there is 
from 5 to 7 fathoms and commodious anchorage for shipping, should 
be that inclosed piece of water seen from the top of Good's Island; 
but to me at this time, there did not appear to be any ship passage 
into it from the northward. An island lies at the entrance, and on 
its west side the depth may probably be more considerable. 

On getting out from between Wednesday and Hammond's 
Islands, we steered along the §outh side of the great north-western 
reef ; and at noon our observation and bearings were as under. 
Latitude observed to the north, - - io°3i' 

Hammond's I., the north "rock dist. 2 miles, N. 73 E. 
Good's I., former station on the S. W. hill, S. 23 W. 
Hawkesbury I., the highest part, - N. 14 W. 

Digitized by 


Twrei Strait.] TERRA AUSTRALIA a43 

Booby Isle was in sight from the mast head at one o'clock, 180S - 
bearing nearly W. S. W. ; and soon after three we anchored one Monday 24. 
mile to leeward of it, in 7 fathoms, soft sand. A boat wa$ sent on 
shore, which presently came back loaded with boobies ; and fresh 
turtle tracks having been perceived, the crew returned to watch, 
and at midnight we received five turtle. Thesfe appeared to be of 
the species called hawkes-bill; the shell? and skins, as also their 
fat, were of a red tinge, and they had longer necks than the turtle 
procured at Wellesley's Islands, to which they were much inferior, 
both in size and quality. 

When entering the Gulph of Carpentaria in the Investigator, 
I had remarked what appeared to be a considerable error in the 
relative positions of Booby Isle and the flat-topped York Island, as 
they are laid down by captain Cook ; and to obtain more certainty, 
the longitude of the flat top had been observed this morning from 
the time keeper, and I anchored here this afternoon to do the same 
by Booby Isle. The result showed the difference of kmgitude be- 
tween them to be 43^, differiiig less than 1' from what had been 
deduced in the Investigator, whereas, by captain Cook, they are 
placed 63' asunder. The high respect to which the labours of that 
great man are entitled, had caused me to entertain some doubt of the 
reality of this error until the present verification. It is to be wholly 
ascribed to the circumstance of his not having had a time keeper in 
his first voyage ; and a more eminent proof of the utility of this 
valuable instrument cannot be &iven, than' that so able a navigator 
could not always avoid making errors so considerable as this, when s 
deprived of its assistance. 

A meridian altitude of the moon placed Booby Isle in latitude 
io° 36' south; and the longitude from a medium of the Investi- 
gator's and Cumberland's time keepers, was 1410 56^' east. A 
morning's amplitude taken after quitting the isle when the schooner's 
head was W. by S., gave the uncorrected variation $ 6 38' east. 

At daybreak next morning, having- a fresh trade wkid, we Tuesday 25. 

Digitized by 


844 A VOYAGE TO {North CocM 

i**- steered W. by S. by compass, the soundings increasing gradually 


Tuesday 25. from 7 fathoms to 13 at noon, when our latitude was io° 38 and 

longitude 141 if. No reefs or other dangers had been seen to the 

(Atlas, west of Booby Isle } nor were any met with in steering across the 

Gulph of Carpentaria towards Cape Wilberforce, though many 

birds, principally boobies, were seen every day. We ran in the night, 

with the precaution of heaving to every four hours, to sound; the 

depth was from 30 to 36 fathoms on a muddy bottom, nearly all 

across the Gulph. 

Friday as. On the 28th at two in the morning, Cape Wilberforce being 

(Rate xv.) seen directly a-head, we hove to in 18 fathoms till daylight ; the 

south-east extreme of the cape then bore S. 54 W., and the largest 

of Bromby's Isles was two miles distant to the northward. After 

making some short tacks, we passed through between the two outer 

isles, with soundings from 6 to 11 fathoms ; and at ten o'clock, when 

clear of the passage, the bearings of the nearest lands were as under : 

Bromby's I., the largest, cliffy S. E. end, - S. 34° W. 

outermost, highest part, dist. i£ m., S. 50 E. 

Truant Isle, centre, - - - N. 37 E. 

Two islets, dist. 5 miles, centres, - - N. 24 and 32 W. 

Wigram's Island, extremes, - - N. 55 to S. 87 W. 

The longitude of our situation according to the positions laid down 
in the Investigator, would be i36°4i ; 10", and the time keeper now 
gave 136 jjftf 12". It was principally for the sake of comparing the . 
two longitudes, that I made the land near Cape Wilberforce. 

We steered northward for the two islets, and at noon, when 
the latitude from an observation to the south was 11 43', but from 
bearings 11 42', they were distant three quarters of a mile to the 
W.byS. ; these islets had been set from the south-east head of 
Cotton's Island at N. 42 35' to 45* 5' E., and that head was now 
seen bearing S. 45^° W. At one o'clock the Wessel's Islands came 
in sight, find I hauled more up, wishing to ascertain their extent to 
the northward ; but the wind being at E. N. E, we could not pass to 

Digitized by 


Wesier* Islands.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 346 

windward before dark, and therefore steered for an opening: between J**** 

- & October. 

the two outer islands. There were strong ripplings and whirlpools Friday ss.^ 
of tide at the entrance of the opening, with very variable soundings 
between 5 and 16 fathoms ; and finding we could not get through in 
time, the sun being then near the horizon, an anchor was dropped 
near a small beach on the north side, in 4 fathoms, out of the set of 
the tides. ' 

Next morning I landed on the northern island, to take bearings Saturday 2* . 
and search for water, and the boat's crew had axes to cut some fire 
wood. Four or five Indians made their appearance, but as we ad- 
vanced they retired ; and I therefore left them to themselves, having 
usually found that to bring on an interview with the Australians, it 
was best to seem careless about it. A Malay prow had been thrown 
on the beach, and whilst the boat's crew was busied in cutting up the 
wreck for fuel, the Indians approached gradually, and a friendly 
intercourse took place ; but as no water could be found, ahd time 
was more precious than the company of these people, they were 
presented with our axes after the work was done, and we got under 
way soon after ten o'clock. 

This island appears to be the outermost of the chain called 
Wessel's Islands, which extend thirteen leagues in a north-east direc- 
tion from the main land near Point Dale. It seemed to be eight or 
nine miles in length, by about five in breadth ; the southern part is 
sandy and sterile, but some trees are produced ; and I saw kanguroog 
of a small kind, too lean to be worth the pursuit their shyness re- 
quired. The natives are of the same colour and appearance as in 
other parts of Terra Australis, and go equally naked; their presence 
here showed the south end of the island to be not wholly destitute of 
fresh water; but in the limited search we' had time to make, none 
' could be found, though traces of torrents denoted the falling of heavy 
rains in some part of the year. The island to the south-west, which 
is of somewhat greater extent, though less in elevation, had much 
the same appearance. 
vol. 11. Y y 

Digitized by 


34ft A VOYAGE Tb pJwih Coast. 

1803. A distance of two miles between the islands seems to present 

October. 111 

Saturday 29. a fair opening; but there is a reef of low rocks on the west side, 
and the ripplings and whirlpools caused by the meeting of the tides 
take away the command of a vessel in light winds j so that, although 
I went through safely in the Cumberland, the passage can be re- 
commended to a ship only in a case of necessity. The latitude of our 
anchorage under the northern island, from a supplement of the 
moon's meridian altitude, was ii e 24!' 'south ; and the longitude by 
time keeper, from altitudes of the star Altair, 136* 28£ # east, but it 
is placed in 1' less, conformably to the positions fixed in the Investi- 
gator. A head land seen in latitude 1 1 # 18*, was probably the northern 
extremity of this island, and of the whole chain; at least nothing 
beyond it could 1$ perceived. 

In steering out of the channel we were carried near the west- 
ern rocks by the tide ; but the water was deep, and a breeze soon 
took the schooner out of its influence. At noon our' observed latitude 
was 1 1* si', the northern island bore N. 67° to S. 4JP E., and the fur- 
thest part of the southern land S. 5 W. ; the wind was light at north- 
(Ada^ eas t, and until midnight we steered north-west to get off the coast; 
our course was then tnore westward towards Timor, where I pro- 
posed to stop for a supply of water and provisions, 

A moderate trade wind, coming generally from S. E. in the 

first part, and E. N. E. in the latter part of the day, carried us to the 

November, longitude of the northern Cape Van Diemen; beyond that, the winds 

were light and variable, and frequently at south-west, which alarmed 

irie lest the unfavourable monsoon should set in before we could get 

Sunday 6. far enough to be out of its influence. Nov. 6 at noon, our latitude 

(PL XVI ) # 

was 9 *8' south, longitude 12 f iv east, and! was surprised to see 
already the high land of Timor extending from N.iW.toW. N. W. ; 
the first was probably the north-east extremity of the island, and dis- 
tant about twenty-three leagues, but the high land in the latter tear- 
ing could scarcely be nearer than thirty-five leagues. This distance, 
with ten feet elevation of the eye on the schooner's deck, would give 

Digitized by 


Towarck Timor.'] TERRA AUSTRAL1S. «#7 


the height to be.more than 900a feet, had it been seen ki the horizon ; 18c &- 
but it was f f>erceptibly above, and this land is therefore probably not Sundays, 
much inferior to the peak of Teneriffe. I did not measure its alti- 
tude above the horizon with a sextant, or tb£ elevation might have 
been more nearly ascertained. 

The westward eun>eat Ji«d hitherto not exceeded .half a mile 
an hour; but the next day it was one mile^and on the day folio wing Tuesday 9. 
one and a quarter to the W. S. W. We had then regained the trade 
wind, and our situation at noon was io° $l' south and 1*5° itf east; 
the northern part of Timor was obscured by haae, the nearest land 
>vi3ible bore N. 75 W. about eight leagues„and the southern .extreme 
W.5°J5. On thepth^the round hill upon Rottefe came in sight, and Wednes. 9. 
bore S. 78 W. at noon, when our latitude wwjo'ga^' south and 
longitude 124° o # east. We carried all sail to gain Samow Strait 
^before dark ; but it was eight o'clock when we hauled round the 
low south-west point of Timor , in soiuldiags from .6 to 14 fathoms 
within a quarter of a mile of the reef. There were lights on both 
shores, which were useful in directing our course up the strait; b^t 
having unfavourable winds, the northern outlet was not quite 
reached at noon next day ; and it was near five in the evening before Thursday 10. 
we anchored abreast of Fort Concordia. This was the thirtieth day of 
our departure from Wreck Reef, and two days might be deducted 
from them for the. deviations and stoppages made figr surveying; 
jjie indifferent sailing of the schooner was also against making a 
quick passage, for with all the sail we could set, so much as six 
knots was not marked on the log board ; yet notwithstanding these 
hindrances, and the much greater of my six- weeks voyage in the 
boat to Port Jackson and twelve days stay at Wreck Reef, the 
JBridgewater had arrived at Batavia only four days' before wd an- 
chored in Coepang Bay. Had not the unfortunate accident happened 
to the Porpoise, I have little doubt that we could, with the superior 
sailing of that ship, have reached the longitude of jfova Head on the 
fortieth, perhaps on the thirtyrfifth day of oyr departure from Port * 

Digitized by 


848 A VOYAGE TO [At Timor. 

1803- Mynheer Geisler, the former governor of Coepang, died a 

* month before our arrival, and Mr, Viertzen at this time commanded; 
He supplied us with almost every thing our situation required, and 
endeavoured to make my time pass as pleasantly as was in his power, 
furnishing me with a house near the fort to which I took the time 
keeper and instruments to ascertain a new rate and error ; but my 
anxious desire to reach England, and the apprehension of being met 
by the north-west monsoon before passing Java, induced me to leave 
him as soon as we could be ready to sail, which was on the fourth 
day. The schooner had continued to be very leaky whenever the 
wind caused her to lie over on the side, and one of the pumps had 
nearly become useless; I should have risked staying two or three 
days longer, had Coepang furnished the means of fresh boring and 
fitting the pumps, or if pitch could have been procured to pay the 
steams irt the upper works after they were caulked; but no assistance 
in this way could be obtained ; we however got a leak stopped in the 
bow, and the vessel was afterwards tight so long as she remained 
at anchor. 

Mr. Viertzen informed me that captain Baudin had arrived at 
Coepang near a month after I had left it in the Investigator, and had 
sailed early in June for the Gulph of Carpentaria ; and I afterwards 
learned, that being delayed by calms and opposed by south-east 
winds, he had not reached Cape Arnhem when his people and himself 
began to be sickly ; and fearing that the north-west monsoon might 
return before his examination was finished, and keep him in the 
Gulph beyond the extent of his provisions, he abandoned the voyage 
and steered for Mauritius in his way to Europe. 

The situation of Fort Concordia is considered to be io # 9^' 
south and 123 35' 46" east, according to the observations made in 
the Investigator (see p. 258). I took altitudes with a sextant and 
artificial horizon on the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, for the rate of 
the time keeper, which, with its error from mean Greenwich time 
at noon there on the last day of observation, was found to be as under ; 
Earnshaw's No. 5*0, slow o h 3s' 59", 91 and losing 36^,74 per day. 

Digitized by 


Coepang Bay.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 849 

From the .first observation on the nth p. m., the longitude _ i**. 


given with the rate from Wreck Reef, was 12$ 48' 34", or 12' 43" 
too far east ; but on using a rate equally accelerated from that found 
at Wreck Reef to this at Coepang, the time keeper will differ 
only o / 40" to the east, which is the presumable amount of its irre- 
gularities between Oct. 6 at noon and Nov. 11 p. m., or in 36,* days. 
The longitudes of my track from Wreck Reef to Timor have been 
corrected agreeably to the accelerated rate, with the further allow- 
ance of a part of the supplemental error o' 40", proportionate to the 
time of each observation; but in Torres' Strait, the situations are 
fixed from a medium of the longitudes so obtained and of those of 
the Investigator with the corrections specified in p. 149 preceding ; 
the difference between them no where exceeding 1 j of longitude. * 

On the evening of the 14th we sailed from Coepang, and having Monday 14; 
passed round the north end of Pulo Samow, steered south-westwgpd 
with a fair breeze; but the wind being light, and afterwards veering to 
S. S. W., our progress was slow. At sunset on the 16th, the island Wednes. 16. 
Savu was seen to the N. W. by N., and next morning at six o'clock, Thuwdayir. 
the following bearings were taken. 

Savu, the highest part, - N. 39* E. 

'fenjoar, a round hill on it, - - N, *2 E. 

A rocky islet, distant 3 leagues, - ■ N. 48 W # 
At noon, the rocky islet bore N. 63* E., and its position was ascer- 
tained to be io° 49^-' south and im° 49' east. A small low island is 
laid down by admiral D'Entrecasteaux, about three leagues to the 
north-west of this position, and had been previously seen by captain 
Cook in 1770; it seems possible that these may be one and the same 
island, for the situation in D'Entrecasteaux's chart is marked doubt- 
ful; but they are both laid down in Plate XVI., and such additions 
made to what little could be distinguished of Savu and Benjoar, as 
D'Entrecasteaux, Cook, Bligh, and Dalrymple could furnish. 

It was my intention on quitting Timor, if the leaky condition 
of the schooner and the north-west monsoon did not oppose it, t# 

Digitized by 


#50 AVOYAQETO [JVwn Timor . 

^ T i 803 - pass southward of all the Sunda Islands and direct for the Cape of 

November, * ^ r 

Thurs. 17. Good Hope; but if impeded, to run through some one of the eastern 
straits, get into the north-east monsoon, and make for Batavia, «r 
any port were the vessel could be repaired. The veering of the 
wind to the westward of south, accompanied by a swell and the 
occasional appearance pf lightning in the north-western quarter, 
made me apprehensive of being forced to this latter plan; and we 
prepared a boarding netting to defend us against the Malay pirates, 
with which the straits between Java and Timor were said to be in- 
fested ; the wind however came back to the eastward, although the 
south-west swell continued, and we had frequent rain with sometime* 
thunder and lightning. 

R|jky26. On the *5th, our latitude was 12 4$' and longitude 103° 6\ 

S * which was past the meridian of Java Head, and beyond the ordinary 
limits of the north-west monsoon. The schooner was leaky, move 
so than before, and the pumps were getting worse; but. hoping to 
reach the C4pe : of Good Hope, I had wholly given up the idea of 
Batavia as lyipg too. far Qut of the track ; Mauritius besides, was, ia 
the way, should the vessel become incapable of doubling the Gape 
without repairs. 

Our course by compass was W.fby S, f6r«thnee days, and after- 
afterwards W..S..W., with fresh south-eastern breezes and cloudy 
weather; but in the upper regions of the atmosphere the wind was 
unsettled, showers of rain were frequent, and it appeared that we 

December, were only just in* time to save our passage. On the 4th of December, 
in ?9°V south and 83° 50' east, we had a good deal of following 
sea from the eastward, whilst the ground swell came from the south* 
west ; and the jumble caused by these different movements in the 
water made the vessel labour exceedingly. I varied the course a point 
on either side, to keep the wind in the easiest direction; but during 
this and the following day the leaks augmented so much, that. the. 
st^rbord pump, which w*s< alone effective, was obliged tocbe worked 
almost continually, day and night; and had the wind been. oathe^ 

Digitized by 


towards Mauritius.] TERRA AtTSTRAtlS. 951 

Starbord side, it is doubtful whether the schooner could have been kept _ i sos. 

above Water. Sunday 4. 

This state of things made it necessary to take into serious con- 
sideration the propriety of attempting the passage round the Cape of 
Good Hope, without first having the vessel caulked and the, pumps 
fresh bored and fitted. Should a western wind meet the current setting 
round the Cape, and it was to be expected, there would be much 
more sea running than we had yet encountered ; and with a fresh 
wind on the starbord side, which might probably occur, the remain- 
ing pump would not touch the water until thehoH was half full ; there, 
was moreover cause to fear, that it also would soon become ineffec- 
tive from constant use. After turning these circumstances over in 
my mind for a day or two, and considering what else might be urged 
both for and against the measure, I determined to put in at Mauritius ; 
and on the 6th in the evening, altered the course half a point for that Tuesday «r. 
island, to the satisfaction of the people. 

In the orders from governor King, the ports to be touched at 
on the way to England were left to my own choice ; but when Mau- 
ritius had been mentioned amongst others in conversation, the 
governor had objected to it, both on account of the hurricanes in 
that neighbourhood, and from not wishing to encourage a communi- 
cation between a French colony and a settlement composed as is that 
of Port Jackson. It was these considerations which had made me 
hesitate to take the stej!>, though the necessity for it was pressing; 
and as, in the case of accident happening to the schooner, I might be 
called to answer before a court martial for going in opposition to the 
wish of a superior officer, h seemed proper to state in my journal all 
the reasons which had any influence on my decision. This journal 
is not in my possession ; but notes of the statement were made whilst 
the recollection of it was strong, and the following was the substanco 
and not far from the words. 

1. The necessity of caulking the schooner and befitting the 
pumps before attempting to double the Cape, were stated nearly as 

Digitized by 


852 A VOYAGE TO [From Timor, 

December a ^ )0Ve ; to w ^ c h was added a hope of obtaining a passage in a ship 
where my defaced charts and journals, which remained untouched 
from the time of the shipwreck, might be put into a state to be laid 
before the Admiralty on arriving in England. In the case of 
meeting with such a passage, I intended to let the Cumberland for 
freight back to Port Jackson, or to sell her, agreeably to the autho- 
rity given me in governor King's orders. 

2. Considering the proximity of Mauritius to the western 
coasts of Terra Australis, which remained to be examined, I was 
desirous to see in what state it had been left by the revolution, and 
to gain a practical knowledge of the port and periodical winds; with 
a view to its being used in the future part of my voyage as a place 
of refitting and refreshment, for which Port Jackson was at an in- 
convenient distance. It was also desirable to know how far Mauritius, 
and its dependencies in Madagascar which I knew to abound in 
cattle, could be useful to Port Jackson in supplying it with breeding 
stock ; an object concerning which the governor had expressed 
anxiety for information from any place on the east side of the Cape 
of Good Hope. 

3. The two letters from governor King to general Magallon, 
governor of Mauritius, instead of being forwarded from the Cape 
might be delivered in person. 

4. 1 was a stranger to what had passed in Europe for nearly twelve 
months, and there was consequently a possibility that war might 
again have broken out ; my passport from the French government 
would be good at Mauritius, but in going to the Cape, it was uncertain 
what attention the Dutch governor might pay to the orders of the 
first consul of France ; and as promoters and encouragers of science* 
the character of the nation was not so high as to give me great 
expectation on that head. Mauritius was therefore much more 
certain than the Cape, since the necessary succour would be there 
obtained even in case of war ; whereas at the Cape there might be 
a risk of losing my charts and journals and of being made a prisoner. 

Digitized by 


Towards Mmriiius.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 85S 

These reasons for stopping at Mauritius as we passed by it, in 1803 - 
addition to the necessity arising from the state of the schooner, were 
written in my rough journal for reference, without any idea of their 
being criticised, or even seen by any other than myself; and I have 
been particular in detailing them, oh account of the unexpected occur* 
rences with which they became connected. 

On the evening of the 9th, a ship was seen to the northward, Friday 9. 
and we sought to speak her for information ; but night coming on 
the sight of her was lost, and we resumed our western course. I 
had no chart of Mauritius, nor other description than what is con- 
tained in the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica ; this in-* 
formed me that Pbrt Louis Was on the north-west side df the island i 
but not of the route usually taken to reach it ; and the prevailing ^Wind 
being south-east, it seemed to be a matter of indifference; I there* 
fore steered to make the middle of the island, intending to go by th« 
north or south sides as the wind might happen to favour most. On 
the 15th before daylight, the land ^as seen, and the wind being Thursday 15. 
E. by.S. we hauled to the northward. When the day broke the 
island was seven or eight miles off, and bore from S. 4a to N: 51° 
W. ; but there was a distant round lump, whether connected with rt 
did not appear, which bore N. by W. ; and finding the schooner 
could not clear it, from the sea running high and current setting to 
leeward, we Veered round and steered southward along the edga 
of a reef which extends four or five miles from this part of the island. 
£ooh after eight o'clock we passed three flat rocks within the reef, 
lying, as I now suppose, at the entrance of Port Bourbon ; the ex^ 
tremes of the island then bore N. i° to S. 69* W., and a steep point 
N. 39 W. five or six miles. 

In steering westward along the shore, looking out for boatsr 
or vessels to gain information, a flag was seen upon on^ of the hills; 
pur colours were then hoisted, and afterwards a French jack at the 
fore-top-mast head, as a signal for a pilot. At noon, the observed lati- 
tude was so 34/ south, and the extremes of the island bore N. 54,* E. 
vol. 11. Z z 

Digitized by 


554 A VOYAGE v TO [At Maw Mm. 

1803. to 6V W. There was a small town bearing N. by E. two or three 
Thursday is. miles, from whence a schooner had come out, and being a-head we 
made sail to speak her ; but she hauled in towards the shore until we 
had passed, and then stood after us. On our heaving to, the schooner 
again steered for a place where some vessels were seen at anchor, 
and I began to take her movements as an intimation that we should 
go in therefor a pilot; accordingly we followed her through a 
narrow pass in the reefs, and anchored in 2j fathoms, in a small reef 
harbour which I afterwards understood was called the Baye du Cap. 

If the schooner's actions were strange before, those of the 
people were now more so ; for no sooner was their anchor dropped, 
than without furling the sails they went hastily on shore in a canoe, 
and made the best of their way up a steep hill, one of them with a 
trunk on his shoulder. They were met by a person who, from the 
plume in his hat, appeared to be an officer, and presently we saw 
several men with muskets on the top of the hill ; this gave ano-r 
ther view of the schooner's movements, and caused me to apprehend 
that England and France were either at war or very near it. To 
induce some person to come on board, I held up the letters for 
general Magallon, the governor ; but this being to no purpose, Mr. 
Aken went on shore in our little boat, taking with him the letters 
and French passport ; in a short time he returned with the officer 
and two others, and I learned to my great regret that war was 
actually declared. 

The officer, whose name was Dunienvtlle, spoke a little English ; 
he asked if I were the captain Flinders mentioned in the passport, 
whether we had been shipwrecked, and to see my commission., Hav- 
ing perused it, he politely offered his services, inquired what were 
our immediate wants, and invited me to go on shore and dine with 
him, it being then near three o'clock. I explained my wish to have 
a pilot for Port North-West (the name at that time for Port Louis), 
since it appeared no reparations could be done in th^ little bay, and 
requested to have a cask or two of water. The pilot was promised 

Digitized by 


Baye du Cap.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 855 

for the next day, and Mons. Dunienville sent a canoe for our empty _ 18 °3. 

' December* 

casks and the master of the French schooner to moor the Cumber- Thursdayis. 
land in a secure place. 

My passport was in French, and being a stranger to the lan- 
guage, I Had had its general purport explained on first receiving it 
from the Admiralty ; but from that time, and more especially after 
the preliminaries of peace had reached Port Jackson, the passport 
had scarcely been looked at, and my knowledge of its contents was 
rery imperfect. When the officer was gone, I set myself to consider 
it attentively ; and so far as I could make out, it seemed to be solely 
for the Investigator, and without provision for any other vessel in 
which the* loss of the ship, or her incapacity to pursue the voyage v 
might oblige me to embark. The intention, no doubt, was to pro- 
tect the voyage generally, and not the Investigator in particular ; 
but it appeared^ that if the governor of Mauritius should adhere to 
the letter of the passport and disregard the intention, he might seize 
the Cumberland as a prize; and the idea of being detained even a 
week more than necessary v was intolerable, I inquired of the pilot 
whether the Cape of Good Hope belonged to the Dutch or English; 
almost determining, should it nothave been given up before the war 
commenced, to attempt the passage at all risks, rather than incur 
the hazard of being stopped ; but the Cape was in the hands of the 

An hour after M. Dunienville had been gone,, we saw him 
. returning with another officer who proved to be his superior in rank ; 
and they had with them a gentleman who spoke English intelligibly. 
My passport and commission were demanded in a rough manner, 
and after the officer had examined them with the assistance of his 
interpreter, he observed that the passport was not for the Cumberland, 
and required an explanation; having received it, he said it was 
necessary that both commission and passport should be sent to the 
governor, and that I should remain with the vessel till an answer ' 
was returned. To this arrangement I objected, alleging that since 

Digitized by 


856 A VOYAGE TO IM Mauritius. 

i8os. war was declared, these papers were my sole protection and could 

Thursdayik. not be given up ; but if copies would do they might be taken. It 

was at length settled, that I should go over land to Port Louis with 

the passport and commission, and that Mr. Aken should be furnished 

with a pilot mid bring the schooner round after me. 

I was conducted to the house of M. Dunienville, about a mile 
distant, to be ready to set off on horseback early next morning. 
The gentleman who interpreted informed me on the way, that general 
Magallon was at Bourbon, having been lately superseded by general 
« De Caen, an officer of the French revolution. M, Dunienville had 

been a lieutenant of the navy and knight of St. Louis under the old 
government, and was then major of the district of La Savanne; but 
the other officer, M. Etienne Bolger, had lately been appointed com*- 
mandant over his head, by the new governor. 

My reception at the major's house was polite and hospitable; 
Friday 16. and at dawn of day I rose to set off with my host for Port Louis, 
according to the plan settled over night. It appeared, however, that 
he first expected some orders from the commandant ; and at ten 
o'clock, becoming impatient of the delay, I requested to know 
whether it were, or were not intended to go overland? Major 
Dunienville seemed to be hurt that the agreement had not been, kept; 
but the direction was taken out of his hands, and not having received 
final orders he could do nothing. I then returned to the Cumber* 
land, with the intention of sailing either with or without a pilot; but 
a wind favpurable for quitting the bay being not expected before 
four o'clock, it induced me to accept the major's pressing invitation 
* to dine at his house/ where four or five strangers were assembled 

Before dinner was over, an order came to him from the commandant 
to permit the departure of the schooner he had stopped; and at five o'clock, 
the pilot being on board, we stood out from the reefs in one of those 
squalls which come off the land at that hour in the summer reason.. 

This little Baye du Cap lies about four miles east frofti *Cap3 
Brabant, a headland at the south-west extremity of the island. The 

Digitized by 



shelter is formed by coral reefs, through which a swall river falling! i 808 * 
into the bay has kept open a passage of about a caWe's length wide, Friday 10. 
with a depth of 3 fathoms close to the eastern breakers; within side 
there appeared to be anchorage for six or eight small veaaeis, m from 
* to 3 fathoms ; but on account of the flurries of wind which ocxme 
down the gullies and off the precipices, it is necessary to moor head 
and stern. Mr, Aken found the latitude from an indifferent ohpfrva* 
tion to be ao° *,(£' south. . « 

At seven in the evening we passed round Cape Brabant, and the 
pilot then kept north-eastward, close along the reefs under the high 
land; although by so doing we were frequently becalmed, and some- 
times had strong flurries which made it necessary to take in all sail ; 
but it appeared that he was afraid of being driven off the island. At 
eight in the morning, the mast heads of {he vessels in Port Louis were Saturday 17. 
in sight, and there was a large ship lying without side which I hoped 
might be Le Gcographe. Major Dunienville had informed me that 
this ship had been some time at Mauritius, and so far as he knew, 
was still at the port, though upon the eve of sailing for Europe. 
Captain Baudin died soon after his arrival, and Mons. Melius, who 
had been first lieutenant of Le Naturaliste when at Port Jackson, 
then commanded. 

During this passage to Port Louis, my mind was occupied in 
turning over all the circumstances of my situation, and the mode of 
proceeding likely to be adopted by the new governor. The break- 
ing out of the war, the neglect of providing in the passport for any 
such case as that in which I stood, and the ungracious conduct of the 
commandant at the Baye du Cap, gave me some apprehensions ; 
but on the other hand, the intention of the passport to protect the 
persons employed in the expedition, with their charts and journals, 
must be evident ; and the conduct of a governor appointed by the 
first consul Bonaparte, who was a professed patron of science, would 
hardly be less liberal than that of two preceding French govern- 
ments to captain Cook in the American, and captain Vancouver in the 

Digitized by 


858 A VOYAGE TO [ At Mauritius. 

i8os. last war; for both of whom protection and assistance had been 
ordered, though neither carried passports or had suffered shipwreck. 
These 'circumstances, with the testimony which the commanders of 
the G6ographe and Naturaliste had doubtless given of their treat- 
ment at Port Jackson, seemed to insure for me the kindest reception ; 
and I determined to rest confident in this assurance, and to banish 
all apprehension as derogatory to the governor of Mauritius and to 
the character of the French nation. 

Digitized by 


Part Louis.} TERRA AUSTRALIS. 859 


Arrival at Port Louis (or North-West) in Mauritius. Interview with 
the French governor. Seizure of the Cumberland, with the charts and 
journals of the Investigator's voyage ; and imprisonment of the com- 
mander and people. Letters to the governor, with his answer. Restitu- 
tion of some books and charts. Friendly act of the English interpreter. 
Propositions made to the governor. Humane conduct of captain Ber- 
geret. Reflections on a voyage of discovery. Removal to the Maison 
Despeaux or Garden Prison. 


At four in the afternoon of Dec. 17, we got to an anchor at the isos. 
entrance of Port Louis, near the ship which I had hoped, might be Saturday 17. 
Le G^ographe; but captain Melius had sailed for France on the 
preceding day, and this proved to be L'Atalante frigate. 

The peculiarity of my situation, arising from the renewal of 
war and neglect in the passport to provide for any accident happen- 
ing to the Investigator, rendered great precaution necessary in my 
proceedings ; and to remove as much possible, any doubts or mis- 
conceptions, I determined to go immediately with my passport and 
commission to the French governor, and request his leave to get 
the necessary reparations made to the schooner ; but learning from 
the pilot that it was a regulation of the port for no person to land 
before the vessel had been visited by the officer of health, it was 
complied with. , At five the boat came along-side ; and having an- 
swered some general questions proposed in good English, I went 
into the boat in my frock uniform, and was conducted to the govern- 
ment house by an officer of the port and an interpreter. These 
gentlemen, after speaking with an aide-de-camp, told ' me that the 

Digitized by 


800 A VOYAGE TO {At JfotirMO. 

ujas. captain-general was at dinner, and we must return in an hour or 
Saturday 17J two ; and they took me to a shady place which seemed to be the 
common lounge for the officers connected with the port. There 
were some who spoke English, and by way of passing the time, they 
asked if I had really come from Botany Bay in that little vessel ; 
whether a corvette, sent out the night before to observe my motions, 
had been seen ; and if I h^d not sent a boat on shore in the night ? 
Others asked questions of monsieur Baudin's conduct at Port Jackson, 
and of the English colony there; and also concerning the voyage of 
monsieur Flinedare, of which, to their surprise, I knew nothing, 
but afterwards found it to be my own name which they so pronounced. 
In two hours we again went to the government house, and the 
6fficers entered to render their account, leaving me at the door for 
half an hour longer. At length the interpreter desired me to follow 
him, and I was shown into a room where two officers were standing 
at' a table; the one a shortish thick man in a laced round jacket, 
the other a genteel-looking man whose blood seemed to circulate 
more tranquilly. The first, which was the captain-general De Caen* 
fixed his eyes sternly upon me, and without salutation or preface 
demanded ftiy passport, my commission ! Having glanced over them, 
he asked in an impetuous manner, the reason for coming to the Isle 
of France in a small schooner with a passport for the Investigator ? 
I answered in a few words, that the Investigator having become 
rotten, the governor of New South Wales had given me the schooner 
to return to England ; and that I had stopped at the island to repair 
my vessel and procure water and refreshments. He then demanded 
the order for embarking in the schooner and coming to the Isle of 
France ; to which my answer was, that for coming to the island I 
had no order, necessity had obliged me to stop in passing ; — my 
order for embarking in the Cumberland was on board. At this 
answer, the general lost the small share of patience of which he 
seemed to be possessed, and said with much gesture and an elevated 
voice — " You are imposing on me, sir ! (Vous m'en imposez, monsieur I J 

Digitized by 


JPbrt Louis.} TERRA AUSTRALIA ~ 361 

" It is not probable that the governor of New South Wales should isgs- 


" send away the commander of an expedition on discovery in so Saturday 17. 
" small a vessel ! — " He then gave back my passport and commis- 
sion, ajid I made a motion to follow the interpreter out, but was de- 
sired to stop a little. In a few minutes the interpreter returned with 
a military officer, to whom some orders not explained to me were 
given, and I was desired to follow them ; when going out the captain- 
general said in a softer tone something about my being welltreated, 
which I could not comprehend. 

In the way to the wharf, I inquired of the interpreter where 
they were taking me ? He said, on board the schooner, and that they 
had orders to bring my bpoks and papers on shore; in effect, they 
took all the charts, papers, and journals relating to my voyage, as 
also the Port- Jackson letters and packets, both public and private ; " 
and having put them into a trunk which was sealed by me at their 
desire, they made out a report (proces verbal) of their proceedings* 
and requested me to sign it with them. The preamble of this report 
set forth •something upon the suspicions excited by my appearance 
at the Isle of France, with the captain-general's opinion thereon; I 
therefore refused to sign it, but certified at the bottom, that all the 
charts, journals, and papers of the voyage, together with all the 
letters on board the schooner had been taken. 

The conduct of these gentlemen being polite, I expressed to 
them my sentiments of general De Caen's manner of receiving me, 
and the injustice of taking away the papers of a voyage protected by 
a passport from the French government ; and added, that the cap- 
tain-general's conduct must alter very much before I should pay him 
a second visit, or even set my foot on shore again. The interpreter 
hoped I would go on shore with them, for the general had ordered 
a lodging to be provide^ for me ; and that, in fact, they had orders 
to take me there. I looked at him and at the officer, who was one 
of the aides-de-camp, — What! I exclaimed in the first transports of 
surprise and indignation,— I am then a prisoner ! They acknowledged 
vol. 11. 3 A 

Digitized by 


3fi2 A VOYAGE TO [AtMmriUm. 

if ®- it to be true ; but said they hoped it would last only a few days, 


Saturday 17. until my papers were examined ; and that in the mean time, direc- 
tions had been given that I should want for nothing. 

Mr. Aken was also to go on shore ; and whilst we put a few 
clothes together in a trunk, several black men, under the direction of 
another pilot, were warping the schooner up into the port. At one 

Sunday is. in the morning the officers took us into their boat, leaving the Cum- 
berland, with Mr. Charrington and the crew, under a, guard of 

We were conducted to a large house in the middle of the town, 
and through a long dark entry, up a dirty stair case, into the room 
destined for us; the aide-de-camp and interpreter then wished us a 
good night, and we afterwards heard nothing save the measured steps 
of a sentinel, walking in the gallery before our door. The chamber 
contained two truckle beds, a small table and two rush-bottomed 
chairs ; and from the dirty appearance of the room I judged the lodg-n 
ing provided for us by the general to be one of the better apart- 
ments of a common prison ; there were, however, no iron bars 
behind the lattice windows, and the frame of a looking-glass in the 
room had formerly been gilt. It seemed to me a wiser plan to leave 
the ciraimstances to develope themselves, rather than to fatigue our- 
selves with uncertain conjectures ; therefore, telling Mr. Aken we 
should probably know the truth soon enough, I stripped and got 
into bed ; but between the musketoes above and bugs below, and 
the novelty of our situation, it was near daybreak before either of 
us dropped asleep. 

At six o'clock, I was awakened by two armed grenadiers 
entering fhe room. The one said some words to the other, pointing 
to us at the same time, and then went out; and he that remained 
began walking backward and forward between our beds, as a sentinel 
on his post, without seeming to pay great attention to us. Had there 
been curtains, I should have tried to regain my slumber; but not 
being able to sleep in such company, I rose and awoke my compa* 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.} TERRA AUSTRALTS. 363 

nion, who seeing the grenadier and not at first recollecting our situ- rtos* 
ation, answer ed in a manner that would' have diverted me at any Sunday is. 
other time. The sentinel did not prevent us speaking together ; and 
on looking out at the window, we found that it was in reality a ta- 
vern where they had placed us, though a very dirty one ; it bore the 
name of Cafe Marengo. A breakfast was brought at eight, and dinner 
at twelve, arid we eat heartily ; good bread, fresh meat, fruit, and 
vegetables being great rarities. 

At one o'clock, the aide-de-camp, A^hom I learned to be 
lieut. colonel Monistrol, came to the tavern and desired me to 
accompany him to the general ; and being shown into an office, a 
German secretary, who spoke some English, put various questions 
to me from a paper, in substance nearly as follows. How it waa 
that I appeared at the Isle of France in so small a vessel, when my 
passport was for the Investigator ? What was become of the officers 
and men of science who made part of the expedition ? Whether 
I had any knowledge of the war before arriving? Why cartel 
colours had been hoisted, and a vessel chased in sight of the island ? 
What were my objects for putting into Port North- West, and by 
what authority? The orders from governor King, relating to the 
Cumberland, were also demanded, and carried to the captain-general 
with my answers to the above questions ; and soon afterward to my 
surprise, an invitation was brought me to go to the general's table, 
his dinner being then served up. This invitation was so contrary to 
all that had "hitherto passed, and being unaccompanied with any 
explanation, that I at first thought it could not be serious, and an- 
swered that I had already dined ; but on being pressed to go at least 
to the table, my reply was, that " under my present situation and 
" treatment it was impossible ; when they should be changed, — 
" when I should be set at liberty, if His Excellency thought proper 
" to invite me, I should be flattered by it, and accept his invitation 
" with pleasure/' It had indeed the air of an experiment, to ascer«- / 

tain whether I were really a commander in the British navy ; and had 

Digitized by 


364 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritiu$. 

i8os. the invitation been accepted without explanation or a change of 
Sunday is. treatment, an inference might have been drawn that the charge of 
imposture was well founded ; but in any case, having been grossly 
insulted both in my public and private character, I could not debase 
the situation I had the honour to hold by a tacit submission. When 
the aide-de-camp returned from carrying the above reply, he said 
that the general would invite me when set at liberty ; but nothing 
was offered in the way of explanation. 

A paper containing the questions of the German secretary with 
my answers, was required to be Signed, but this being in French, I 
objected as not understanding it ; a translation was therefore to 
be made, and the letter of governor King respecting the Cumber- 
land was to be put into French for the captain-general. Extracts 
from my journal, showing the necessity of quitting the Investigator, 
were moreover desired, and also my reasons at full length for stop- 
ping at the Isle of France, instead of going to the Cape of Good 
Hope ; it being necessary , they said, for the general to transmit these 
to the French government, to justify himself for granting that assist- 
ance to the Cumberland which had been ordered for the Investigator. 
It was already night, and the excessive heat, with being kept six 
hours answering questions, was very fatiguing; I therefore took 
the third volume of my rough log book, which contained the whole 
of what they desired to know, and pointing out the parts in question 
to the secretary, told him to make such extracts as should be thought 
requisite. I then requested to be shown back x to the tavern, also 
that the sentinel might be taken out of our room, and Mr. Aken be 
permitted to return on board the schooner to keep order ; to which 
the aide-de-camp brought for answer, that it was then too late to 
make new arrangements, but His Excellency would see me in the 
morning. All the books and papers, the third volume of my roflgh 
log book excepted, were then returned into the trunk and sealed as 
before ; and I was reconducted to my confinement between eight 
and nine o'clock. 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 366 

Next morning, the sentinel in our chamber was ordered to take isos. 
his station without side; and in the afternoon M. Bonnefoy, the in- Monday 19. 
terpreter, came to say that business prevented the captain-general 
from seeing me before the following day. Mr. Aken had permis- 
sion to go on board the schooner under the conduct of an officer ; 
but not being allowed to remain, he brought away the time keeper, 
with my sextant and artificial horizon ; and we commenced a series 
of observations for a new error and rate, ready against the day of 
our departure. 

Mr. Charrington came from the schooner on the 20th to in- Tuesday 20. 
form me, that the seamen were committing many irregularities, 
taking spirits out of my cabin and going on shore as they pleased ; 
the French guard seeming to take little or no cognisance of their 
actions. At one o'clock, the interpreter and a military officer took 
me to the government house, and I expected to have an interview 
with the general and a termination put to our confinement. They 
shewed me into the secretary's office, and requested a copy of my 
passport and commission ; and having made out one myself and 
signed them both, the interpreter then said the general was busy 
and could not see me that day ; and I was taken back without learn- 
ing when he wbuld be at liberty, or what was intended to be done. 
As yet I was unable to comprehend any thing of the captain- 
general's conduct ; but however great my indignation at seeing my 
liberty and time thus trifled with, it was to be feared that in writing 
to him for an explanation, before seeing what turn the affair would 
take, might be productive of more harm than good. The disorders 
on board the schooner, however, requiring immediate correction, I 
wrote a note to inform him of them ; requesting at the same time, 
that Mr. Aken might remain in the Cumberland, and that the caulk- 
ing of the vessel's upper works and fresh boring of the pumps might 
be commenced, these being the principal objects for which I had 
stopped at the island. In the evening the interpreter called to say, 
that the corporal of the guard on board the schooner had been 

Digitized by 


tt* A VOYAGE TO [AtMatmtm. 

isos, punished for neglecting his orders ; that one of the sailors, a Prus* 

December. *-»«-» 

Tuesday «o. sian, being found on shore had been put into the guard house, and 
that an answer would be given to my nqje in the morning. In 
effect, the interpreter then came with lieutenant-colonel Monistrol, 

Wednes.21, and explained to me a paper to the following purport. 

That the captain-general being convinced from the examina* 
tion of my journal, that I had absolutely changed the nature of the 
mission for which the First Consul had granted a passport, wherein 
I was certainly not authorised to stop at the Isle of France to make 
myself acquainted with the periodical winds, the port, present state of 
the colony, &c. That such conduct being a violation of neutrality, he 
ordered colonel Monistrol to go on board the Cumberland, and in my 
presence to collect into one or more trunks all other papers which 
might add to the proofs already acquired ; and after sealing the 
trunks, I was to be taken back to the house where my suspicious con* 
duct had made it necessary to confine me from the instant of arriv-* 
ing in the port. It was further ordered, that the crew of the 
schooner should be kept on board the prison ship ; and that an in- 
ventory should be taken of every thing in the Cumberland, and 
the stores put under seal and guarded conformably to the regu- 

* The following is a copy of the order, as given to me by the interpreter and certified 
by colonel Monistrol. 

" Au quartier general de lisle de France, le 29 Frimaire^ 
an 12 de la R^publique. 

" De Caen, capitaine-gen^ral des e^tablissements Franjais k l'Est du Cap de Bonne 
Esp&ance. D'apres l'examen qui a 6x6 fait du journal du commandant de la goelette 
Anglaise le Cumberland, ayant acquis la conviction que le commandant Flinders, preV 
c^demment capitaine de la corvette ^Investigator, envoy£ par le gouvernement Anglais 
pour un voyage de decouverte dans la Mer Pacifique, a denature* absolument sa mission 
pour laquelle il avait obtenu du Premier Consul le passeport sign£ du ministre de la ma- 
rine sous la date du 4 Prairial, an !>. Par lequel passeport il n'^tait certainement pas 
autorise* k relacher a Tlsle de France, pour pouvoir reconnoitre les vents periodiques, le 
port, et Vetat actuel de la colonic^ Sfc. ; qu'ainsi par cette conduite il a viole* la neutrality 
sous laquelle il hii avait eH6 permis indirectement d'aWder en cette isle." 

Digitized by 


Pbrt Louis.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 867 

Such was the answer given to my request for the tepairt of isos. 

J r December. 

the schooner to be commenced. In compliance with their order the Wedaes. «u 
officers took me on board, and the remaining books and papers, 
whether relating in any way to the Investigator's voyage or not, 
even to letters received from my family and frksnds during several 
years, were all taken away, locked up in a trunk, and sealed. Mr. 
Aken and myself were allowed to take our clothes, but the officers 
dared not venture to let me have any printed books ; I must how* 
ever do colonel Monistrol and M. Bonnefoy the justice to say, that 
they acted throughout with much politeness, apologizing for what 
they were obliged by their orders to execute ; and the colonel sai$ 
he would make a representation to the captain-general, who doubt- 
less lay under some mistake. 

This turn to my affairs surprised, and at first stunned me. 
The single circumstance about which I had entertained the least 
apprehension, was the neglect in my passport of providing for any 
other vessel than the Investigator ; but from this order of the cap- 
tain-general, I found myself considered in the light of a spy; my 

" Ordorme que le chef de bataillon Monistrol se rendra £ bord de la goelette le Cumber- 
land, pour en presence du capitaine Flinders, faire lever les sceltes provisoirement mis sur 
sa chambre, et faire ramasser dans une ou plusieurs malles, touts les autres papiers qui 
peuvent oontribuer it augmenter les preuves d6jk acquises contre lui j lequel, apr&s avoir 
appos^ de nouveaux sceltes sur ces caises ou malles, devra £tre reconduit k la maison oil 
sa d-marche suspecte a n£cessit£ de le faire retenir d& llnstant m£me de son arriv6e 
dans ce port. 

"Le capitaine-g£n£rahordonne en outre, que ces malles seront remises it celle dijk 
scell^e par le capitaine Flinders ; ajoutant k cette disposition provisoire, que T^quipage de 
cetfe goelette sera retenu k la caserne de mer, et qu'un inventaire sera pr&lablementfait 
par un commissaire de la marine de tout ce qui peut exister k bord du Cumberland outre 
que les papiers ; lesquels effets seront mis sous le scelli et gardes conform£ment yix r£- 
gkmentt : pour aprfes ces dispositions 6tre statues ainsi qu'il appartiendra. 

Expedition du present sera adress^e au Pr^fet colonial. 
u Pour copie conforme J^e capitaine-g£n£ral 

(Signed), Monistrol, Sign*, PeCaeo." 

Digitized by 


368 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1803. desire to know how far Mauritius could be useful as a place of refit- 

Wcdnes.21. ment in the future part of my voyage, — a desire formed and ex- 
pressed in the belief of its being a time of peace, was made a plea for 
depriving me of liberty and the result of more than two years of risk 
and labour. The sensations raised by this violation of j ustice, of huma- 
nity, and of the faith of his own government, need not be described ; 
they will be readily felt by every Englishman who has been sub- 
jected, were it only for a day, to French revolutionary power. On 
returning to my place of confinement, I immediately wrote and sent 
the following letter, addressed to His Excellency the captain-general 
De Caen, governor in chief, &c. &c. &c. Isle of France. 


From your order, which was explained to me this morning, I find that 
the plea for detaining me is not now that I do not appear with the Investi- 
gator, according to the letter of my passport from the first consul of France; 
but that I have violated the neutrality therein required by having given in 
my journal, as an additional reason for putting into this port, that Cf it would 
enable me to acquire a knowledge of the periodical winds, and of the present 
state of the French colony ; how far it or its dcpendecies in Madagascar might 
be useful to Port Jackson, and how far it would be a convenient place for 
me to touch at in my future expected voyage :" I quote from memory only, 
my journal being in your possession. How this remark, made upon the 
supposition of our two nations being at peace, can be a breach of neutrality, 
I acknowledge myself unable to discover. Nothing can, in my opinion, add 
to the propriety of the intentions with which I put into this port, but I shall 
justify it by the example of your own nation ; and to do so, it is only neces- 
sary for me to refer to the instructions which preface the published voyage 
of the unfortunate La Perouse, by the judicious Fleurieu. Your Excellency 
will there see, that the much lamented navigator was ordered to make particu- 
lar observations upon the trade, manufactures, strength, situation, &c. of 
every port where he might touch ; so that, if the example of your own nation 
be taken as a standard of propriety, the plea for making me a prisoner is 
altogether untenable. Upon the supposition even of its being war, and that 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.} TERRA AUSTRALIA *» 

I knew it and still intended to make the observations expressed in my journal ; 1805 

upon this incorrect and worst supposition I have, I think, an example of We<lnea. 21. 

similar conduct in your own nation ; unless you can assure me that the cap- 
tains Baudin and Hamelin made no such remarks upon Port Jackson, for it 
was a declared war at the time they lay in that port. But were they forbidden 
to make such remarks and notes upon the state of that English colony ? Upon 
its progress, its strength, the possibility of its being attacked with advantage, 
and the utility it tyight afford to the French- nation ? I tell you, general De 
Caen, No. The governor in chief at Port Jackson knew too well the dignify 
of his own nation, either to lay any prohibition upon these commanders, or 
to demand to see what their journals might contain. * 

I shall next appeal to you as being the representative in this place of a 
great nation, which has hitherto shown itself forward to protect and encour- 
age those sciences by which the knowledge of mankind is extended or their 
„ condition ameliorated. Understand then, Sir, that I was chosen by that 
patron of science sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London, 
and one well known by all the literati throughout the world, to retrace part 
of the track of the immortal captain Cook, — to complete what in New Holland 
and its neighbourhood he had left unfinished, — and to perfect the discovery 
of that extensive country. This employment, Sir, as it was congenial to my 
own inclinations, so I pursued it with avidity ; upon it, as from a convex 
lens, all the rays of knowledge and scienca which my opportunities have 
enabled me to collect, were thrown. \ was unfortunate in that my ship de* 
cayed before the voyage was completed; but the captain-general at Port 
Jackson, who is also the senior naval officer there, was so sensible of the 
importance of the voyage and of the zeal with which I had pursued it (for 
the truth of-which I appeal to his letters now in your possession), that he gave 
me a colonial ship of war to transport me with my officers, charts, &c. to 
England, that I might obtain another ship in which the voyage might be 
completed. In this second ship I was a passenger ; and in her, shipwreck 
and the loss of charts which had cost me much labour and many risks to 
make perfect, were added *to my first misfortune ; but my zeal suffered no 
abatement. I returned to Port Jackson (734 miles) in an open boat, and got 
a merchant ship which was bound to China, hired to carry my officers and 
people to England by that circuitous route ; but desirous of losing no time, 
vol. ir. 3 B 

Digitized by 


#70 A VOYAGE TO {At Mauritius. 

1803. I took a small schooner of twenty-nine tons, a mere boat, in order to reach 

December. , */ 

Wedne*. 21. England by a nearer passage, and thus gain two or three months of time in 
the outfit of my future expected ship ; making my own ease and safety to 
stand in no competition with the great object of forwarding my voyage. 
Necessity, and not inclination, obliged me to put in at the Isle of France in 
my route. 

Now, Sir, I would beg to ask you whether it becomes the French 
nation, independently of all passport, to stop the progress of such a voyage, 
and of which the whole maritime world are to receive the benefit? How 
contrary to this was her conduct uome years since towards captain Cook! But • 
the world highly applauded her conduct then ; and possibly we may some- 
time see, what the general sentiment will be in the present case. 

I sought protection and assistance in your port, and 1 have found a 
prison ! Judge for me as a man, Sir, — -judge for me as a British officer em- 
ployed in a neutral occupation, — judge for me as a zealous philanthropist, 
what I must feel at being thus treated. 

At present I quit the subject with the following requests : that I may 
be permitted to have my printed bodks on shore ; and that my servant may 
be allowed to attend me in my apartment. 

With all the respect due from my situation to the captain-general, 

I am 

From my confinement, Your Excellency's obedient servant, 

„ Dec. 21, 1803. Matthew Flinders. 

The lapse of several years has enabled me to consider the 
transactions of this period under different views, to regard* them with 
almost the coolness of an uninterested observer ; and I see the pos- 
sibility that a dispassionate reader may accuse me of taking too 
high a position, and using too warm a style, — in rather giving way 
to the dictates of feeling than dwelling upon the proofs of my inno- 
cence; perhaps also, he may accuse me of vanity, in seeking to 
enhance my own zeal and claims. Without attempting to controvert 
these censures, I beg him to consider all the circumstances of my 

Digitized by 



situation: ray voyage, shipwreck, and anxiety to pursue the steps of l60i - 
our celebrated navigators. Let him suppose himself to have executed Wednea. 21. 
so much of the same task, escaped the same dangers; and under the 
influence of powerful motives to reach England with expedition, to 
be arrested on the way, his misfortunes either not heeded or con- 
verted into proofs of delinquency, and himself treated as a spy; and 
this is done by the representative of a government whicji had pro- 
mised assistance and protection, and moreover owed him a return for 
the kind treatment recently experienced by Frenchmen in the port 
from whence he came. Let him suppose himself writing to his op- 
pressor with these various recollections crowding on his imagination; 
and the allowances he would then desire for himself, I request of 
him to make for me. 

On the day following the transmission of the letter, my servant Thursdays*, 
was brought on shore from the prison ship, where he left Mr. Char- 
rington and the seamen closely confined; but no answer was re- 
turned either on the 22nd or 23rd, nor did we hear any thing that Fridays*. 
could give an 'insight into what further was intended to be done. 
We suffered much from the heat of the weather and want of fresh 
air ; for the town of Port Louis is wholly exposed to the rays of thg 
sun, whilst the mountains which form a semicircle round it to the 
east and south, not only prevent the trade wind from reaching it, but 
reflect the heat in such a manner, that from November to April it is 
almost insupportable. During this season, the inhabitants whose 
affairs do not oblige them to remain, fly to the higher and windward 
parts of the island ; and the others take the air and their exercise 
very early in the morning and late in the evening. We who. were 
shut up in the middle of the town, and from having been three 
moriths confined to a vessel of twenty-nine tons were much in need 
of exercise, could not but feel the personal inconveniences of such a * 
situation in their full rigour ; and the perturbation of mind, excited 
by such unworthy treatment, did not tend to alleviate their effects on 
our health. But the heat and want of fresh air were not the worst evils. 

Digitized by 


872 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1803. Our undefended pallet beds were besieged by swarms of bugs and 
f nday 23. musketoes, and the bites of these noxious insects upon bodies ready to 
break out with scurvy, produced effects more than usually painful and 
disagreeable. Being almost covered with inflamed spots, some of 
which had become ulcers on my legs and feet, I wrote to the captain- 
general, requesting the assistance of a surgeon ; and also to know 
under what limitations he would allow me to write to the Admiralty 
of Great Britain, and to my family and friends ; but the main subject 
was left untouched, in expectation of an answer to the former letter. 
In the afternoon, one of the aides-de-camp said that His Excel- 
lency did not prevent me from writing to whom I pleased ; but that 
my letters must be sent open to the town major, who would forward 
them to their address. The same evening a surgeon, who did not 
Saturdays*, speak English, came to our room; next morning he returned with 
the interpreter, and finding the ulcers to be scorbutic, ordered me, 
in addition to his dressings, to drink plentifully of lemonade and live 
upon fruit and vegetables. Their visit was repeated on the follow- 
Sunday 25, ing day; but nothing transpired relative to the general's intentions, 
r nor to any answer proposed to be given to my letter of the 21st; 
and I therefore wrote another in the following terms, 


From whatever cause it may be that I have received no answer to my 
letter of the 21st last, I shall yet continue to do my duty to my government 
and the cause of discovery, by pointing out every circumstance that may have 
a probability of inducing you to 1 liberate my people, my vessel, and myself. 
A former letter showed, that upon the principled adopted in voyages of 
discovery by your own nation, the plea for detaining me a prisoner was un- 
tenable; and also that independently of any passport, it ill became the French 
nation to stop the prosecution of a voyage of discovery, especially one car- 
ried on with. the zeal that mine has hitherto been. In this letter I shall 
endeavour to point out another circumstance, at least as important as the 
former, so far as regards the injustice of my detainer. In this point of view 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 378 

then, Sir, I shall admit, that to make any remarks upon a' port which might 180 ^ tt . 
enable either myself or others to come into it again with more facility, or Smiday*5. 
which might give information concerning th$ refreshments and articles of 
commerce to be procured at it, is, although made in time of peace, a crime ; 
and consequently, that if La Perouse executed his instructions, he was no 
better than a spy at the different ports where he put in. Let this, Sir, for the 
moment be admitted; and I ask what proofs you have that I have made such 
remarks ?. You will probably say, I intended to make them. True,- but 
intention is not action. I might have altered my intentions on coming into 
the port, and finding our two nations to be at war : you cannot know what 
alteration a knowledge of the war might have made in my sentiments. 
We do indeed judge much of the merit or demerit of an action by the inten- 
tion with which it is performed ; but in all cases there must be an action 
performed to constitute any certain merit or demerit amongst men. Now in 
my case there appears to have been intention only ; and even this intention 
I have before shown to be consistent with the practice of your own nation, 
and I believe of all nations. 

As it appears that Your Excellency had formed a determination to stop 
the Cumberland, previously even to seeing me, if a specious pretext were 
wanting for it, it would have been more like wisdom to have let me atone 
until the eve of sailing, and then Jo have seized my journal; where it is 
possible something better than intention might have been fixed upon as a 
cause for making me a prisoner. This would have been a mean action, and 
altogether unworthy of you or your nation ; but it might have answered your 
purpose better than the step now taken. I say there appears to have been a previous 
determination to stop the Cumberland, and from this cause; that on the first 
evening of my arrival, and before any examination was made into my papers 
(my commission and passport excepted), you told me impetuously that I was 
imposing upon you. Now I cannot think that an officer of your rank and 
judgment could act either so ungeutlemanlike, or so unguardedly, as to make 
' such a declaration without proofy unless his reason had been blinded by 
passion, or a previous determination that it should be so, nolens volens. In 
your order of the 21st last it is indeed said, that the captain-general has 
acquired conviction that I am the person I pretend to be, and the same for 
whom a passport was obtained by the English government from the First 

Digitized by 


874 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1803. Consul; it follows then, as I am willing; to explain it, that I am not and was 
December. . & r 

Sunday 25. not an impostor. This plea was given up when a more plausible one was l 

thought to be found ; but I cannot compliment Your Excellency upon this 

alteration in your position, for the first, although false, is the most tenable 

post of the two. 

Trusting that upon a due consideration of all the circumstances, you 

will be pleased to fulfil the intention for which the passport was given, I have 

the honour to be, 

From my confinement, Your Excellency's obedient servant, 

Dec. 25, 1803. Matthew Flinders. 

In the evening, a letter was brought me by a soldier from 
general De Caen, and the haste with which it had been sent inspired 
favourable hopes ; I did not expect the visit of the interpreter until 
the following day, and therefore attempted to decipher the letter 
by the help of a French dictionary, with a degree of anxiety which 
its contents were but little calculated to satisfy; it was as follows. 

I did not answer your letter of the 21st December, Sir, because it was 
useless to commence a debate here between you and me, upon the motives 
well or ill founded 'from which I took upon myself to stop the Cumberland 
until further orders. On the other hand, I should have had too much 
advantage in refuting your assertions, notwithstanding the reasonings tod 
quotations with which you have adorned them. 

I was still willing to attribute the unreserved tone you had used in that 
letter, to the ill humour produced by your present situation. I was far from 
thinking that after having seriously reflected upon the causes and circum- 
stances, you should take occasion from a silence so delicate to go still fur- 
ther; but your last letter no longer leaves me an alternative. 

Your undertaking, as extraordinary as it was inconsiderate, to depart 
from Port Jackson in the Cumberland, more to give proof of an officious, zeal, 
more for the private interests of Great Britain than for what had induced 
the French government to give you a passport, which I shall unfold at a 
proper opportunity, had already given me an idea of your character ; but 
this letter overstepping all the bounds of civility, obliges me to tell you, 

Digitized by 



until the general opinion judges of your faults or of mine, to cease all corres- i**. 

pondence tending to demonstrate the justice of jour cause ; since you know Sunday 2*. 

so little how to preserve the rules of decorum.* 

The accusation of not preserving the rules of decorum," seemed 
not a little extraordinary from one who had kept me above two hours 
in the street when I had gone to wait upon him, and who had quali- 
fied me with the title of impostor without examination; but it seemed 
that any act of aggression on the part of the general w^s to meet 
only with submission and respect. Embarrassment sheltering itself 

# Au quartier general il'Isle de France, le 3 Nivose, 
an 12 de la Republique Francoise. 
" De Caen, Capitaine G£n£ral des etablissements Frangois Al'Est 

du Cap de Bonne Esperance. 
- " Au capitaine Flinders commandant le schooner le 

" Je n'avois pas repondu k votre lettre 'du 21 Xbre, Monsieur le capitaine, parcequ'il 
me devenoit inutile d'&ablir ici entre vous et moi, un debat sur les motifs plus ou moins 
fond£s, dont je ro'&ois autoiise' pour retenir jusqu'tt nouvel ordre le Cumberland: D'un 
autre cote* j'aurois efi trop d'avantage k rtfuter vos assertions malgr£ les raisonnements et 
les citations dont vous les avez ornes." 

" J'avoisbien voulu encore attribuer le ton peu reserve* dont vous aviez fait usage dans 
cette lettre, k la mauvaise humeur que vous a donn£e votre position actuelle: J'&ois loia 
de penser qu'apres avoir refl^clii s^rieusement aux causes et aux circonstances, vous 
vous autoriseriez d'un silence aussi d£licat pour aller encore plus loin ; mais votre dernier 
lettre ne me laisse plus d'alternative." 

« Votre. entreprise aussi extraordinaire que peu re'ftechie, de partir du Port Jackson sur 
le Cumberland plus pour donner une preuve d'un zele officieux, plus pour les intexets 
particuliers de La Grande firetagne, que pour ce qui avoit pfi engager le Gouvernement 
Frangois k vous donner un passeport, ce que je devellopperai en terns et lieu, m'avoit deji 
donne* une idee de votre caracte>e ; mais cette lettre franchissant toutes les bornes de 
rhonn£tet£, m 'impose de vous dire, en attendant que Vopinion gencrale juge de vos torts 
mi des miens, de cesser toute correspondance tendante k vouloir d£montrer la justice de 
votre cause, puisque vous savez si peu garder les regies de la bienseance. 

Je vous salue. 


Digitized by 


376 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1803. U nder despotic power, was evident in this letter; but it gave no fur- 
Sunday *5. ther insight into the reasons for making me a prisoner, and con- 
sequently no opportunity of vindicating my innocence. It therefore 
seemed wisest, seeing the kind of man with whom I had to deal, to 
follow his directions and leave the main subject to the operation of 
time ; but to take off my mind from dwelling too intensely upon the 
circurtistance of being arrested at such a conjuncture, I determined to 
employ it in forwarding my voyage, if an application for the neces- 
sary papers should be attended with success. 
Monday 26. Having obtained a translation of the general's letter from the 

interpreter, who came next morning in company with the surgeon, I 
wrote to request, 

ist. My printed books from the schooner. 

sd. My private letters and papers out of the secretary's office. 

3rd. To have two or three charts and thnee or four manu- 
script books, for the purpose of finishing the chart of the Gulph of 
Carpentaria ; adding in explanation, that the parts wanting were 
mostly lost in the shipwreck, and I wished to replace them from my 
memory and remaining materials before it were too late. For these 
a receipt was offered, and my word that nothing in the books 
should be erased or destroyed ; but I wished to m^ke additions to one 
or two of the books as well as to the charts, and would afterwards be 
, ready to give up the whole. 

4th. I represented a complaint from my seamen, of being shut 
up at night in a place where not a breath of air could come to them ; 
which, in a climate like this, must be not only uncomfortable in the 
last degree, but very destructive to European constitutions. Also, 
that the people with whom they were placed were affected with that 
disagreeable and contagious disorder the itch ; and that their provi- 
sions were too scanty, except in the article of bread, the proportion of 
which was large, but of a bad quality. 

An answer was given on the same day by one of the general's 
aides-de-camp, who said that orders had been given for the delivery 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 317 

of the books and papers ; that the place where the seamen were •«». 
kept was very wholesome ; and as to the provisions, that orders Monday 2$. 
had been given on my arrival for the people of the Cumberland to be 
treated as French seamen in actual service ; that he would inquire 
whether any thing contrary had been done, which he did not think, 
but in that case it should be set right. 

At noon .next day colonel Monistrol and M. Bonnefoy called, Tuesday sr 
and a trunk was brought from on board the schooner, containing a 
part of my printed books. The colonel seemed to be sorry that my 
letters to the general had been couched in a style so far from humble, 
and to think that they might rather tend to protract than termi- 
nate my confinement ; on which I observed, believing him to be 
in the general's confidence, that as my demand was to obtain 
common justice, an adulatory style did not seem proper, mote es- 
pecially w^en addressed to a republican who must despise it: my 
rights had been invaded, and I used the language natural to a man 
so circumstanced. Had favours been wanted, or there had been any 
thing to conceal, my language would probably have been different ; 
but of all things I desired that the strictest scrutiny should be made 
into my papers, and that it should be confronted with any exami- 
nation they might choose to make of myself or people. The colonel 
and interpreter, either from politeness or conviction, did not disagree 
with these sentiments, but repeated that a different mode of writing 
might have answered better ; it appeared indeed, from their conver- 
sation, that French republicanism involved any thing rather than 
liberty, justice, and equality, of whiphit had so much boasted. 

So soon as the two gentlemen were gone, I took out my naval 
signal book from the trunk and tore it to pieces ; the private signals 
had been lost in the shipwreck, so that my mind was now freed from 
apprehensions which had given much inquietude. 

On the 28th, M Chapotin, the surgeon, called as usual with the Wednes. 28. 
interpreter. He said that air and exercise were necessary to the re-es- 
tablishment of my health, and that so soon as I should be able to walk 
vol. iu 3 C 

Digitized by 


378 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

i8os. cut, it would be proper to apply to the general for a permission ; and 
Wedne8.28 # . on my objecting to ask any thing like a personal favour, he promised 
with some degree of feeling to take the application on himself. 

No mention was made this day of the books and papers, to be 
Thurs. 29. delivered from the sealed trunks ; but next morning I was conducted 
to the government house, and took out all my private letters and 
papers, the journals of bearings and astronomical observations, two 
log books, and such charts as were necessary to completing the 
Gulph of Carpentaria; for which a receipt was required, without 
any obligation to return them. The third log book, containing 
transactions and remarks in different vessels during the preceding 
six months, was important to me on many accounts, and espe- 
cially for the observations it contained upon Torres' Strait and the* 
Gulph ; but it was said to be in the hands of the general, who 
could not be disturbed, and two boxes of despatches from governor 
King and colonel Paterson had been taken away. All the other 
books and papers, including my passport, commission, &c; with 
some accounts from the commissary of New South Wales and many 
private letters from individuals in that colony, were locked up in a 
trunk and sealed as before. 
Saturday 3i. On the 31st. I sent to the town-major's office an open letter ad- 

dressed to the secretary of the Admiralty, giving a short account of my 
embarkation and shipwreck in the Porpoise, voyage in the Cumber- 
land, and situation in Mauritius ; with two private letters, and a re- 
1804. quest that they might be forwarded by the first opportunity. Next 


Sunday 1. day the receipt of them was acknowledged, and a promise given to 
inform me of the means by which they should be sent, and it was 
done accordingly; but not one of the letters, or of their duplicates, 
was ever received. 

Having calculated with Mr. Aken the observations previously 
taken for the rate of the time keeper,* I now worked earnestly upon 

* The rate from December 19 to 25, was 36",9 losing, or only 0",16 more than that 
previously found at Coepang in Timor ; but the longitude deduced from the first observa- 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.] TERRA AUSTRALIA * 879 

the chart of the Gulph of Carpentaria ; and this employment served 1804 - 
to divert my chagrin, and the indignation which, however useless it 
might be, I could not but feel at the author of our imprisonment. 
The want of my log book, however, was a great obstacle to laying 
down the parts seen in the Cumberland ; and nothing more having 
been said of it, a short letter was written to general De Caen on the 
5th, reminding him that the log was necessary to the construction 
of my charts, and that only a small part of the printed books had 
yet been delivered. A verbal answer was brought by the interpreter, 
and two days afterward the books came from the schooner; but 
respecting the log no answer was made. 

The sentinel placed at the door of our chambers ( for we had 
a few days before obtained a second, with musketo curtains to our 
beds), became unusually strict at this time, scarcely allowing the 
master of the tavern, or even the interpreter or surgeon to see us ; and 
one day, hearing me inquire the name of some dish in French from 
the slave who waited at dinner, the sentinel burst into the room and 
drove away the poor affrighted black, saying that we were not to speak 
to any person. Previously to this, a Dutch, a Swiss, a Norwegian, 
.and two American gentlemen had called ; but except the Swiss, who 
found means to bid us good day occasionally without being no- 
ticed, not one came a second time, for fear of being held in a 
suspicious light by the government; and now, the surgeon and 
interpreter were not admitted without a written order. Two appli- 
cations had been made by the surgeon in my behalf, to walk in the 
fields near the town; the last was personally to the captain-general, 
but although he might have caused a sentinel to follow, or a whole 
guard if thought necessary, an unqualified refusal was given to M* 
Chapotin's humane request. 

tion with the Coepang rate, was 57* 40' 40",5, or 10' 43",5 greater than afterwards ob- 
tained from twenty-seven set* of lunar distances. In laying down the track from Timor, 
this error has been equally distributed throughout the thirty-five days between November 
14 and December 19, ia03. 

Digitized by 


&0 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius* 

1804. We were lodged and supplied with meals in the tavern at the* 

public expense ; but having lost part of our clothes in the shipwreck, 
and distributed some to those of our companions who had saved 
nothing, both Mr. Aken and myself were much in want of linen and 
other necessaries; and after the few dollars I chanced to have about 
me were gone, we knew not how to pay for our washing. All 
strangers being refused admittance took away the chance of nego- 
tiating bills, for the surgeon spoke no English and the interpreter 
always avoided the subject; one morning however, having pre- 
viously ascertained that it would not give umbrage, the interpreter 
offered to attempt the negotiation of a bill drawn upon the commis- 
sioners of the navy ; but the sentinel, seeing him take a paper, gave 
information, and M. Bonnefoy was scarcely out of the room when 
a file of soldiers made him prisoner ; nor, although a public officer, 
was he liberated until it was ascertained that he acted with permis- 
sion, and had received no other paper than the bill. In the evening 
he brought the full sum, at a time when bills upon England could 
obtain cash with difficulty at a discount of thirty per cent. It was 
the chevalier Pelgrom, who filled the offices of Danish and Imperial 
consul, that had acted thus liberally ; and he caused me to be in- 
formed, that the fear of incurring the general's displeasure had alone 
prevented him from offering his assistance sooner. 

Although Mr. Aken and myself were strictly confined and 
closely watched, my servant was left at liberty to go upon my com- 
missions ; and once a week I sent him on board the prison ship, to 
take Mr. Charrington and the seamen a basket of fruit and vegeta- 
bles from the market. They had always been permitted to walk 
upon deck in the day time, and latterly been sometimes allowed to 
go into the town, accompanied by a soldier ; and since from all we 
could learn, the final decision of the captain-general was yet in sus- 
pense, I augured favourably of the result from this relaxation towards 
the men. My hopes became strengthened on the 14th, by learning 
from M. Bdhnefoy that it was believed we should be permitted to 

Digitized by 



walk out, and perhaps depart altogether, so soon as three Dutch »**• 
ships commanded by rear-admiral Dekker should have sailed. These 
ships were loaded with pepper from Batavia, and bound to Europe ; 
and it seemed possible that one reason of our detention might be to 
prevent English ships gaining intelligence of them by our means ; 
but this could be no excuse for close imprisonment and taking away 
my charts and journals, whatever it might be made for delaying our 

Finding it impossible to obtain the third volume of my log 
book, the charts of Torres' Strait and the Gulph of Carpentaria were 
finished without it; fortunately the journal kept by Mr. Aken in the 
Cumberland had not been taken away, and it proved of great assist* 
ance. Our time passed on in this manner, hoping that the Dutch 
ships would sail, and that general De Caen would then suffer us to 
depart, either in the Cumberland or m some other way ; the surgeon 
came almost daily, on account of my scorbutic sores, and the inter- 
preter called frequently. I was careful not to send out my servant 
often, for it appeared that he was dogged by spies, and that people 
were afraid of speaking to him ; the surgeon and interpreter were 
almost equally cautious with me, so that although in the midst of a 
town where news arrived continually from some part of the world, 
every thing to us was wrapped in mystery ; and M. Bonnefoy after- 
wards acknowledged, in answer to a direct question put to him, that 
an order had been given to prevent us receiving any intelligence. 

On the *<jth, admiral Dekker sailed with his three ships; and 
whilst anxiously expecting some communication, the interpreter 
called to inform me that an order had been given for the schooner 
to be moved up the harbour, and the stores to be taken out; and he 
wished to know if Mr. Aken should be present at making the inven- 
tory. I asked what was to be done with us, — with my books and 
papers ? To which he answered by a shrug of the shoulders : he 
had coflie only for the purpose of executing his order. On each of 
the two following days Mr. Aken was taken down to the schooner; 

Digitized by 


882 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1804. for he accepted the proposition to accompany the officers for the sake 
of the walk, and in the hope of obtaining some intelligence. He 
found the poor Cumberland covered with blue mold within side, and 
many of the stores in a decaying state, no precautions having been 
taken to preserve her from the heat or the rains; the French inven-. 
February, tory was afterwards brought to him to be signed, but he refused it 
with my approbation. 

This new proceeding seemed to bespeak the captain-general 
* to have finally taken his resolution to keep us prisoners ; and my 
disappointment at seeing it, instead of receiving back my books and 
papers and permission to depart, was extreme. In the hope to 
obtain some information I wrote a note on the 3rd, to solicit of 
His Excellency the honour of an audience ; and five days having 
elapsed without an answer, the interpreter was requested to deliver 
a message to the same effect. He presently returned with the con- 
cise answer, No ; but afterwards told me in conversation that the 
general had said, " captain Flinders might have known that I did 
* " not wish Jo see him, by not giving an answer to his note. It is 

" needless for me to see him, for the conversation will probably be 
" such as to oblige me to send him to the tower." 
v My intention in requesting the audience was to have offered 
certain proposals to the general's consideration, and if possible to 
obtain some explanation of the reasons for a detention so extraor- 
dinary, and now protracted beyond six weeks; and being disap- 
pointed in this, a letter was written on the 12th, containing the fol- 
lowing propositions. 

1st. If your Excellency will permit me to depart with, my 
vessel, papers, &c, I will pledge my honour not to give any inform- 
ation of the Isle of France or any thing belonging to it, for a limited 
time, if it be thought that I can have gained any information ; or if 
judged necessary, any bther restrictions can be laid upon me. If this 
will not be complied with, I request, 

and, to be sent to France. 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 383 

3rd. But if it be indispensable to detain nje here, I request that J 1 *** 
my officer and people may be permitted to depart in the schooner ; 
as well for the purpose of informing the British Admiralty where I 
am, as to relieve our families and friends from the report which will 
be spread of the total loss of the Porpoise and Cato t with all on 
board. Mr. Aken can be laid under what restrictions may be deemed 
requisite; and my honour shall be a security that nothing shall be 
transmitted by me, but what passes under the inspection of the officer 
who may be appointed for that purpose. 

4 In case of refusing to adopt any of these modes, by which my 
voyage might proceed without possibility of injury to the Isle of France, 
I then reminded His Excellency that since the shipwreck of the Por- 
poise, six months before, my people as well as myself had been mostly 
confined either upon a small sand bank in the open sea, or in a boat, 
or otherwise on board the Cumberland where there was no room to 
walk, or been kept prisoners asf at that timet and that I had not pre- , 
viously recovered from a scorbutic and very debilitated state, arising 
from eleven months exposure to great fatigue, bad climate, and salt 
provisions. After noticing my scorbutic sores, and his refusal of the 
surgeon's application for me to walk out, it was added, — The cap- 
tain-general best knows whether my conduct has deserved, or the 
exigencies of his government require, that I should continue to be 
closely confined in this sickly town and cut off from society ; but of 
no part of this letter was any notice taken. 

Two days before, I had been favoured with a visit from captain 
Bergeret of the French navy, who had commanded La Virginie 
frigate when taken by Sir Edward Pellew, and of whose honourable 
conduct in the affair of Sir W. Sydney Smith's imprisonment, public 
mention had been made in England. This gentleman sat some time 
conversing upon my situation, which he seemed desirous to amelior- 
ate ; he said that " the general did not consider me to be a prisoner 
" of war, and that my coiifineiflent did not arise from any thing I 
" had done/' From what then did it arise? At this question he 

Digitized by 


384 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

Feb° 4# was S ^ ent - **e regretted not to have been in town on my arrival, 
believing it would have been in his power to have turned the tide of 
consequences ; and obligingly offered to supply me with money, 
if in want. 

thiring a fortnight from this time, no incident occurred worth 
notice. My scorbutic sores being much better, the surgeon came 
but seldom ; and the visits of the interpreter being less frequent than 
before, our solitude was rarely interrupted. The Gulph of Car- 
pentaria and Torres' Strait being finished, my time had since been 
employed in writing an explanatory memoir upon the latter chart; 
Mr. Aken was occupied in copying the journal of bearings for the 
Admiralty, and my servant in transcribing the two first volumes of 
the log, which had been torn and defaced in the shipwreck ; so that 
our time did not pass wholly in vain. It was the completion of the 
charts, however, that I had most at heart ; and although the success 
of an application for more materials were very doubtful, an essay to 
obtain them was made on the 27th, in the following letter to the 


The term of my imprisonment being lengthened out much beyond 
my expectation, puts me under the necessity of making another application 
to Your Excellency for more books and charts, that I may still proceed in 
completing the account of my observations and discoveries. If the whole 
were put into my possession it would be of much service to my labour, and 
save Your Excellency from being troubled with any further application on 
this head ; but if this will not be complied with, I beg to make a small se- 
lection from them, which will principally consist of a roll of charts. I am 
not however to deceive Your Excellency ; — this roll contains the greater 
part of my original fair charts, and I am desirous to have them principally 
for the purpose of making an abridgment of my discoveries upon a single 
sheet. With all due consideration, I am 

Your Excellency's prisoner, 

Matthew Flinders. 

Digitized by 


Part Louis.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 385 

This letter was no more fortunate than the last, and it seemed that _ t 1804 - 


general De Caen had determined upon giving me no answer to any 

The Admiral Aplin, an extra-indiaman outward bound, on 
board of which were several officers of the army and four ladies f 
had been brought in as a prize ; the ladies with their husbands were 
suffered to remain at a tavern in the town, at the instance of captain 
Bergeret, by whose privateer, La Psyche, they had been taken ; the 
others were sent to a house at a little distance in the country, where 
all the English officers had been a short time confined. I ventured 
to send my servant to the tavern, to inquire after my countrymen 
and women; and they obligingly furnished me with magazines, 
newspapers, and a Steele's list of the navy, up to August 1803, which 
in such a place, and after so long an ignorance of what was passing 
in England, were highly acceptable. 

On March i,the interpreter made a personal application to March, 
general De Caen concerning the books and charts mentioned in my 
last letter; to which he received for answer, that so soon as the 
governor was a little freed from business he would attend to this 
request. I asked M. Bonnefoy to give me his opinion of what was 
likely to be done with us ? He replied that we should probably be 
kept prisoners so long as the war lasted, but might perhaps have per- 
mission to live in some interior part of the island, and liberty to take 
exercise within certain limits. This opinion surprised me; but I 
considered it to be that of a man unacquainted with the nature of a 
voyage of discovery, and the interest it excites in every nation of 
the civilised world, and not the least in France. To be liberated in 
an honourable manner by an order of the French government, so 
soon as it should be informed of my detention, appeared to be certain ; 
for whatever colour general De Caen might give to his proceedings, 
it could not be disguised that he had arrested the commander of a 
voyage bearing a French passport, and had taken from him his 
charts, journals, and vessel ; but as yet I could not be persuaded that 
vol. 11. . 3D 

Digitized by 


386 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

ism. the general would risk the displeasure of his government, and par- 
ticularly of the first consul Bonaparte, by whose order my passport 
had been given, and who had professed himself to be a patron of 
science. A voyage of discovery undertaken upon liberal principles, 
and carried on with zeal, tempered with humanity towards the in- 
habitants of the countries visited, seemed to me an object to interest 
every person, of whatever nation or profession. The philosopher, 
or man of general science would see his knowledge of the globe, and 
of man, its principal inhabitant, so much the object of such a voyage, 
that he might consider it as undertaken for his gratification ; and he 
who professed a particular branch, whether of natural philosophy or 
natural history, would expect so many new observations and dis- 
coveries in his favourite pursuit, that the voyagers could not fail to 
have his best wishes for their success. A professor of the fine arts 
might expect new and striking subjects to be brought to light, upon 
which to exercise his genius and display his powers ; the merchant 
and manufacturer would anticipate fresh aids to their industry, and 
new markets for its produce; and the seaman, from such a voyage, 
would expect the discovery of new passages and harbours, to which 
he might have recourse either for convenience or safety; and he 
would also see in it the adoption of the best means for advancing his 
art to perfection. The philanthropist and zealous Christian would 
have delight in observing the blessings of civilization thus continually 
extending themselves, and in seeing new fields opened in yrhich to 
sow the seeds of righteousness ; and even the man without profes- 
sion, science, or zeal,— the perfectly idle, could not be without 
interest in a voyage of discovery, since the gratification of curiosity 
is an object of at least as much concern with them as with any other 
class of men. Considering, thus, a voyage for the investigation of 
new countries as of extensive interest and importance, it was with 
difficulty I could be convinced that there were people who thought 
it of none ; or of so little,. that the putting a stop to it, imprisoning 
the commander and seizing his charts and papers, required no more 

Digitized by 


Fort Louis.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 387 

consideration than if it were a common voyage. To be kept a pri- i 80 ** 
soner so long as the war should last, did not therefore enter into my 
conception as within the bounds of probability •; but it is the failing 
of men of all professions to over-rate the importance of that which 
they have themselves adopted, and into this error it will probably be 
thought I had fallen with respect to voyages of discovery. 

We had a second visit on the 6th from captain Bergeret, to 
whom the passengers of the Aplin, and particularly the married 
gentlemen, were indebted for much attention and indulgence. He 
seemed to think that nothing could at this time be able to procure 
our release, but that we might perhaps be permitted to live in the 
country; and he promised to interest himself in it, so soon as^a 

.proper time and opportunity could be found for speaking to the cap- 

The season was arrived in which, should we be set at liberty, 
it would be too late to attempt a passage round the Cape of Good 
Hope in the schooner, and before the return of another year, the 
stores/and perhaps the vessel itself might be rotten ; and having no 
hope to obtain an answer to a letter, I requested M. Bonnefoy to make 
an application to the general for permission to sell the Cumberland. 
Ten days afterward the interpreter infonped me, that general De 
Caen had spoken to him of my wish to live in the country, which had 

-been made known to him by captain Bergeret ; and he desired him 
to tell me, " to have a little patience, he should soon come to some 
determination upon my affair ;" being spoken to upon the sale of 
the Cumberland, his reply was, " a little patience, it is time enough 
yet ;" and when the charts and books for which I had applied on 
Feb. 27 were mentioned, he still gave the same answer. 

My people were brought on shore on the 23rd, with other 
British subjects from the prison ship, in order to be sent to a district 
called Flacq, on the east side of the island ; and this circumstance 
confirmed my suspicion that it was not intended to liberate us until 
orders were received from France. Mr. Charrington, the boatswain. 

Digitized by 


888 A VOYAGE TO {At Mauritius. 

1804. was permitted to speak to me in the presence of an officer before 
their departure ; and after learning the condition of the poor pri- 
soners, I recommended him to keep our people as clean in their per- 
sons and regular in their conduct as circumstances would permit ; 
and not to attempt any escape, since we must be liberated in six or 
eight months by order of the French government. One of them, 
the Prussian who had behaved so ill, had gone away in the Spanish 
frigate Fama, by permission of the French ; the others had been 
kept strictly on board the prison ship after the departure of the three 
Dutch men of war. Although several prizes had been brought in, 
the number of English prisoners was inconsiderable ; owing to some 
of the vessels being manned with Iascars who were not confined, 
and in part to the sailors having been induced to enter on board the 
French privateers, for the sake of obtaining more provisions and to 
avoid being kept in irons. 

I had hitherto forborne to write any letters to England, whether 
public or private, but what passed open through the office of the town 
major, that no plea, even what arbitrary power could construe into 
such, njight be taken for continuing our imprisonment; but the arrival 
of letters thus sent being exceedingly problematical, and my hope 
of liberation from general De Caen having disappeared, the motive 
for this forbearance had ceased to exist. An account was therefore 
written to the secretary of the Admiralty of my arrival, reception, 
and treatment in Mauritius, inclosing copies of all the letters written 
or received ; that my Lords Commissioners might be enabled to 
take proper measures for obtaining our liberty and the restitution of 
my charts and journals ; especial care was taken at the same time, to 
avoid the mention of any thing which could be thought to infringe 
on the passport, as much as if it had remained inviolate on the part 
of general De Caen. This letter was inclosed to a friend in London, 
and sent by the way of America ; and I afterwards learned from the 
public papers that it v^is received in the August following. 

The end of March had arrived, and nothing more was said of 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.] * TERRA .AUSTRALIS. 389 

our permission to reside in the country ; and being most heartily iso4. 
weary of close confinement, I Requested to be removed to the same 
place with the British officers, prisoners of war; the house where they 
were kept being described to be large, and surrounded with a wall 
inclosing about two acres of ground, within which the prisoners were 
allowed to take exercise. On the 30th colonel Monistrol came to 
confer on the subject, and next day conducted me to the house for 
the purpose of Choosing two rooms. He said on the way that the 
house was originally built by a surgeon named Despeaux, and now 
hired by the government at twenty-five dollars per month to accom- 
modate the English gentlemen ; that it was very spacious, and had 
formerly lodged the ambassadors sent by Tippoo Sultaun to this 
island; I found it to be situate about a mile north-east from our 
tavern in the middle of the town, and enjoying a fresh air which, in 
comparison with our place of confinement, made me think it a para- 
dise. After the unpleasant task of selecting two rooms, which colonel 
Monistrol ordered to be vacated by the- officers who were in pos- 
session, he returned with me to the town ; and promised at parting 
to speak again to tHe captain-general concerning my charts and 

This little walk of a mile showed how debilitating is the want 
of exercise and fresh air, for it was not without the assistance of 
colonel Monistrol's arm, that I was able to get through it. Convey- 
ances were sent in the evening for our trunks, and we took posses- 
sion of our new prison with a considerable degree of pleasure ; this 
change of situation and surrounding objects producing an exhilaration 
of spirits to which we had long been strangers. 

Digitized by 


390 , A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 


Prisoners in the Maison Despeaux, or Garden Prison. Application to 
Admiral Linois. Spy-glasses and swords taken. Some papers re- 
* stored. Opinions upon the detention of the Cumberland. Letter of 
• captain Baudin. An English squadron arrives off Mauritius : its 
consequences. Arrival of a French officer with despatches, and obser- 
vations thereon. Passages in the Moniteur, with remarks. Mr. Aken 
liberated. Arrival of cartels from India. Application made by the 
marquis Wellesley. Different treatment of English and French pri- 
soners. Prizes brought to Mauritius in sixteen months. Departure 
of all prisoners of war. Permission to quit the Garden Prison. Astro- 
nomical observations. 

iso4. W e lost no time in exploring our new place of confinement, and 
p ' in making acquaintance with our fellow prisoners. These were 
major Shippard and Mr. W. H. Robertson, who had come from 
India during the peace on account of their health, and been detained ; 
the captains Mathews, Dansey, and Loane, and Mr. M e Crae of the 
Indian army, taken in the Admiral Aplin ; and Messrs. Dale and 
Seymour of H. M. frigate La D6daigneuse, who having been sent 
with a prize to Bombay had fallen in with the corvette Le b61ier, 
and been brought to Mauritius. The officers of merchant ships, 
at first confined in the Garden Prison, had a few days before been 
sent out to Flacq ; and the four remaining officers of the army taken 
in the Aplin, were allowed, at the intercession of captain Bergeret, 
to dwell with their wives at a plantation in the quarter of Pam- 
plemousses, about six miles from the port. 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 391 

M. Bonnefoy, the interpreter, continued to visit us occasion- iso*. 
ally ; and gave some useful assistance in forming our little estab- 
lishment, by procuring the restitution of a part of my private pro- 
perty left in the Cumberland, and obtaining a permanent permission 
for my servant to pass the sentinel at the gate. Our lodging and 
table in the Cafe Marengo had been defrayed by the, government ; 
and during the first month, six dollars per day, being two for each 
person, had been charged ; but the prifet; thinking this too much, 
had fixed the allowance at 116 dollars per month, for which the 
tavern keeper agreed to supply us nearly as before. On being re- 
moved to the Garden Prison, the interpreter informed me with some 
degree of shame, that a further reduction of eleven dollars per 
month had been ordered, to go towards paying the rent of the house ; 
which is perhaps the first instance of men being charged for the 
accommodation of a prison. 

Towards the middle of the month, rear-admiral Linois came 
into port after his unsuccessful attempt upon our China fleet, , 
the same in which my officers and people were passengers. As 
I believed the want of nautical information, and especially upon 
the usages adopted towards voyages of discovery, had materially 
contributed to the extraordinary proceedings of general De Caen^ 
it seemed probable that an examination of my conduct and papers 
by the rear-admiral might clear up the affair ; and this hope, with 
the character of the admiral as an upright and humane man, in- 
duced me to write to him. I described the leading circumstances 
of my voyage, and situation at that time ; and said, " I should 
willingly undergo an examination by the captains of your squadron, 
and my papers would either prove or disprove my assertions. If it 
be found that I have committed any act of hostility against the French 
nation or its allies, my passport will become forfeited, and I expect 
no favour ; but if my conduct hath been altogether consistent with 
the passport, I hope to be set at liberty, or at least to be sent to France 
for the decision of the government/' Admiral Linois had the polite- 

Digitized by 


892 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1804. ness to return an immediate answer ; but said, that not being in the 

April. ' ' 

port at the time of my arrival, it belonged to the captain-general to 
appreciate the motives of my stopping at the Isle of France, and to 
.determine the time of my momentary detention. -" Nevertheless 
" Sir/' he added, " believe, that taking an interest in your situation, 
" I shall have the honour to speak to the captain-general concerning 
" it ; and shall be flattered in contributing to your being set at liberty ." 
Unfortunately a difference arose between the admiral and general 
De Caen ; and the answer given to the application was, that my case 
having been submitted to the French government, his request could 
not be complied with. 

Captain Halgan of the French corvette Le Berceau, having 
e been in England during the short peace and heard my voyage there 

mentioned, as well as by the officers of Le G£ographe, did me the 
favour of a visit more than once. He testified a lively interest in 
my situation, and offered pecuniary assistance if wanted ; and being 
afterwards ordered to France, applied for me to be sent on board 
his ship ; which being refused, he obligingly took a letter to cap- 
tain Melius of Le G^ographe, and two others for England which 
May. were punctually sent. In May I addressed a letter to His Excellency 
the marquis Wellesley, governor-general of British India, giving an 
account of my imprisonment. The character of general De Caen 
permitted but little hope to be entertained from the interference of 
His Lordship, but it seemed proper to acquaint him with the cir- 
cumstances ; and it was possible that some unforeseen occurrence 
might put it in the power of the marquis to demand my liberty 
in a way not to be refused: in all these letters I continued to 
adhere most scrupulously to the line of perfect neutrality indicated 
• by the passport. 

A detention of some months longer, until orders should arrive 

from France, appeared now to be inevitable, and the captain-general, 

N by withholding the charts, papers, and log book, seemed to desire 

that nothing should take off my attention from feeling the weight of 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 393 

his power; but both Mr. Aken and myself contrived to pass 180i * 
some months neither uselessly nor disagreeably. We associated 
at table with Mr. Robertson and the two young gentlemen of the 
D£daigneuse, by which our society was enlivened ; and between the 
employments of copying my bearing book and defaced journals, 
making some astronomical observations, reading, and the amuse- 
ments of music, walking in the inclosure, and an old billiard table 
left in the house, the days passed along rather lightly than other- 
wise. A prisoner or two were occasionally added to our number 
from the prizes brought in ; but when amounting to six or eight, 
they were marched off to join the other merchant officers at Flacq. 
The seamen there were kept closely confined ; but the officers 
enjoyed some share of liberty, and were as happy ^ as they could 
make themselves upon fourteen dollars a month, in a place where 
the necessaries of life were exorbitantly dear ; the hospitality of the 
French families in the neighbourhood, however , aided them con- 
siderably, and they spoke of the kindness and attention received 
in high terms. 

On June 1, captain Neufville, the officer commanding the June, 
guard over the Prison, demanded all the spy-glasses in our possession ; 
at the same time promising that each should be returned when the 
owner had permission to quit the island, and threatening those with 
close confinement in the tower, by whom any glass should be 
concealed. There was no cause to doubt the authority captain 
Neufville had to make the threat, but it should seem he had none to 
promise the restitution of the glasses; for I saw all the officers 
depart, and to the best of my knowledge not one of them could 
obtain their own. When Mr. Robertson quitted the island, and he 
was one of the first, his spy-glass was not to be found. The French 
gentleman to whom he delegated his claim, wrote to the town major 
upon the subject; and the answer was, that all arms and instruments 
taken from prisoners of war wefe the lawful property bf the captors, 
as a reward for their courage ; that for himself, he had not taken 
vol. ii. 3 E 

Digitized by 


*W A VOYAGE TO [4> Mauritius. 

J 804 - advantage of this right, but had given the glass in question to an 
officer of La Semillante, to be used against the enemies of his country. 
This answer not appearing satisfactory, the gentleman replied that 
he did not understand how a spy-glass, belonging to a surgeon, as Mr. 
Robertson was, could be construed into arms or instruments of war. 
The owner had come to the island on account of his health, pre- 
viously to the war, and been detained, therefore no extraordinary 
courage had been displayed in his case ; and as these circumstances 
must have been forgotten by the major, he hoped the glass would 
be restored according to promise. To this no answer was returned; 
and whether all the glasses were given away, or how disposed of I 
did not learn, J>ut had to regret the loss of two. 

To the measure of taking away our spy-glasses was added that 
of nailing up the door leading to the flat roof of the house. At sunset 
the sentinel was accustomed to quit the outer gate, and to be posted 
before the door of the prison to prevent any person going into 
the inclosure after *that time ; then it was that a walk upon the 
roof, after the heat of the day was passed r became a real pleasure ; 
but of this we were now deprived.* On the following day a demand 
was made by a serjeant of invalids, who lived in the house as police 
officer, of the swords and all other arms in possession of the prisoners, 
and of mine amongst the rest? but not choosing to deliver up my 
sword in this manner, I addressed a short letter to the captain- 
general, representing that it was inconsistent with my situation in 
His Britannic Majesty's service to do so ; I was ready to deliver it 
to an officer bearing His Excellency's order, but requested that 
officer might be of equal rank to myself. In a week captain 
Neufville called to say, that it was altogether a mistake of the ser^ 

* It being afterward suspected, and not without reason, that pome of the gentlemen 
had forced the door, we were officially informed that the sentinels had received orders to 
shoot any one who might be seen on the roof 5 this produced greater circumspection, but 
the pleasure of the walk and having a view of the sea was such, that it did not wholly 
remedy the evil. 

Digitized by 


Gitrdin Prison.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 396 

jeant that my arms had been asked for, and he was sorry it had j 804 - 
taken place; had the captain-general meant to demand my sword, 
it would have been doqe by an officer of equal rank ; but he had no 
intention to make me a prisoner until he should receive orders to 
that effect. The explanation attending this apology seemed to be 
strange ; and the next time captain Neufville came to the house I 
observed to him, that it appeared singular, after having been con- 
fined six months, to be told I was not a prisoner, and asked him 
to explain it. He said, no certainly, I was not a prisoner, — my 
sword had not been taken away ; that I was simply detained for 
reasons which he did not pretend to penetrate, and put under sur- 
veillance for a short period. 

In this affair of the sword I thought myself rather handsomely 
treated ; but about three months afterward, one of the lower officers 
of the staff came to demand it in the name of the town major, by 
order of the captain-general. When told the circumstances which 
had occurred upon the same subject, he said the general had con- 
sented to my wish at that time, but had since altered his mind; and 
upon the promise of sending an officer of equal rank, he said there 
was no officer of the same rank at that time in readiness,— that 
Colonel D' Arson val (the town major) would himself have come had 
he not been engaged. I might, by a refusal, have given the officer 
the trouble of searching, my trunks, and perhaps have received some 
further degradation; but since the order had come from the general, 
who had broken his word, my sword was delivered, with the 6bserva- 
fion that I should not forget the manner of its being taken. The 
officer described himself as lieutenant-adjutant de place; he conducted 
himself with politeness, and did not ask if I or Mr. Aken had any 
other weapons. 

A seaman of the Cumberland and another prisoner from Flacq 
made their appearance one morning behind the wall of our inclosure. 
They had come to make a complaint of the scantiness of their pro- 
visions ; for besides bread, they had only six ounces of meat or fish 

Digitized by 


496 A VOYAGE TO , {At Mauritius; 

1804. j n the j a y ? without salt or vegetables, which afforded them but a 
poor dinner and was their only meal in twenty-four hours. Several 
petitions and complaints had been made to the officer who had charge 
of them, but without effect; and they at length resolved that two of 
their number should escape out of the prison, and go to the pre jet to 
make their complaint. It was to be feared that they would be con- 
sidered as prisoners attempting to escape, if found openly in the town ; 
and therefore, after giving them money to satisfy their immediate 
hunger, my servant was sent with them and a note to the interpreter, 
requesting he would be good enough to take them to the town- 
major's office, where they might tell their story ; and the result was, 
that they were put on board the prison ship, and kept in irons for 
several weeks. Mr. Charrington, my boatswain, had hitherto been 
treated as a common seaman ; but through the obliging mediation 
of M. Bonnefoy, the allowance and portion of liberty granted to 
mates of merchant ships were obtained for him ; and by two or three 
opportunities I sent tea and a few dollars to the seamen, on finding 
they were so miserably fed. 

In the middle of this month, two of the officers who had resided 
with their wives at Pamplemousses, obtained permission to go on 
their parole to India, through the interest of captain Bergeret. This 
worthy man had frequently come to the Garden Prison, and at this 
time undertook to apply to the captain-general for my books and 
papers, and for Mr. Aken and myself to be removed to Pample- 
July. mousses ; on the 2nd of July he called early with information of 
having succeeded in both applications; he had even ventured to 
propose my being sent to France, but to this it was answered, that the 
affair being submitted to the decision of the government, I must re- 
main until its orders were received. 

In a few days M. Bonnefoy conducted me to the secretary's 
office, and I took cut of the sealed trunk all the books, charts, and 
papers which required any additions, or were necessary to the finish- 
ing of others ; as alsp a bundle of papers containing my passport* 

Digitized by 


Garden Prism} TERRA AUSTRAUS. 397 

commission, &c, and the shattered accounts of the Investigator's 18d4 - 

° July. 

' stores. For these a receipt was required, the same as before; but 
the third volume of my log book, for which so many applications 
had been made, was still refused. Word had been sent me privately, 
that the trunk had been opened and copies taken of the charts, but 
to judge from appearances this was not true ; and on putting the 
question to colonel Monistrol, whether the trunk or papers had been 
disturbed, he answered by an unqualified negative. In regard to 
our living in the country, the general had said to captain Bergeret, 
" he should think further upon it ;" and this we were given to under- 
stand must be considered as a retraction of his promise : a second 
example of how little general De Caen respected his own word. 

Charles Lambert, Esq., owner of the Althaea indiaman, brought 
in some time before as a prize, having obtained permission to go 
to England by the way of America, and no restriction being laid 
upon him as to taking letters, had the goodness to receive a packet 
for the Admiralty, containing copies of the charts constructed here 
and several other papers. In August I found means of sending to Augusts 
India, for Port Jackson, a letter addressed to governor King ; de- 
scribing my second passage through Torres' Strait, and the bad 
state of the Cumberland which, had obliged me to stop at Mauritius, 
with the particulars of my imprisonment and the fate of his despatches. 
This letter was received in the April following, and extracts from it 
were published in the Sydney gazette ; wherein was made a comparison 
between my treatment in Mauritius and that of captain Baudin at 
Port Jackson, as described by himself and captain Melius. This 
account was copied into the Times of Oct. 19, 1805, whence it after- 
wards came to my knowledge. 

One advantage of being confined in the Garden Prison rather 
than at the Cafe Marengo, was in the frequency of visitors to one or 
other of the prisoners ; permissions were required to be obtained 
from the town major, but these were seldom refused to people of 
respectability. In this manner we became acquainted with all the 

Digitized by 


398 m A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 


public news, and also with the opinions entertained in the island upon 
the subject of my imprisonment. Those who knew that I had a 
passport, and was confined upon suspicion only, thought the conduct 
of the captain-general severe, impolitic, and unjust; and some who 
pretended to have information from near the fountain head, hinted 
that if his invitation to dinner had been accepted, a few days would 
have been the whole of my detention. Others understood my pass- 
port and papers to have been lost in the shipwreck, and that it was 
uncertain whether I were the commander of the expedition on dis- 
covery or not; whilst many, not conceiving that their governor 
could thus treat an officer employed in the service of science with- 
out his having given some very sufficient cause, naturally enough 
made a variety of unfavourable conjectures ; and in due time, that 
is, when these conjectures had passed through several hands, reports 
were in circulation of my having chased a vessel on shore on 
the south side of the island,-— of soundings and surveys of the coast 
found upon me,— and of having quarrelled with the governor of 
New South Wales, who had refused to certify on my passport the 
necessity of quitting the Investigator and embarking in the Cumber- 
land ; and this last seemed to have acquired credit. I will not pre- 
tend to say, that general De Caen had any part in propagating these 
reports, for the purpose of satisfying the curiosity of an inquisitive 
public and turning its attention from the truth, though far from 
thinking it improbable ; be that as it may, the nature of my voyage, 
our shipwreck, the long passage-made in the little Cumberland, and 
our severe imprisonment, had excited a considerable degree of in- 
terest ; and I was told that this imprisonment had been mentioned 
iji an anonymous letter to the captain-general, as one of the many 
tyrannical acts committed in the short time he had held the govern- 
ment of the island. 

One of the persons who asked permission to see me, was 
M. Augustin Baudin, brother of the deceased commander of Le 
G6ographe ; he testified the grateful sense his brother had always 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.'] TERRA AUSTRALIA 399 

entertained of the generous reception and great assistance received 1804 - 
from governor King at Port Jackson, and expressed his own regret ^ 
at not being able to do any thing for my release. On learning 
from him that a letter still existed, written by captain Baudin to a 
member of the tribunal of appeal in Mauritius, I succeeded in obtain- 
ing an extract, of which the following is an exact translation. 

On board Le Geographe, New Holland, 
Port Jackson, the 3d December, 1802. 

After having traversed the sea in different directions for nine months 
after leaving Timor, I came to Port Jackson to pass the winter. The scurvy 
had then made such rapid progress, that I had no more than twelve men fit 
for duty when I arrived in this colony. The succours which were lavishly 
bestowed, the affectionate and obliging cares of governor King, his unremit- 
ting conduct and proceedings beyond example, every thing in fine, has con- 
curred to make the effects of this disorder less fatal than the first (a dysentery 
contracted at Timor), although the cause was not less serious. I cannot pass 
in silence an act of humanity to which our situation gave rise. These are the 

On our arrival at Port Jackson, to the number of a hundred and 
seventy persons, the resources in corn were far from, abundant ; a great 
inundation and the overflowing of the River Hawkesbury, having in part 
destroyed the harvest which was upon the eve of being got in, and the fol- 
lowing one being distant and uncertain, was not a fortunate circumstance 
for us. Nevertheless we were made perfectly welcome, and so soon as oujr 
present and future wants were known, the ration given daily to the inhabi- 
tants and the garrison was reduced one-half. The governor and the civil 
and military officers set the example of this generosity, which was imme- • 
diately followed by the others. We were not only strangers, but still at war,, 
for the news of the peace was not yet known. 

The original extract in my possession, is certified to be true 
by the gentleman to whom the letter was addressed. Its contents 
afford a contrast to the proceedings of the governor of Mauritius, too 
striking to require any comment. 

Amongst the acquaintances formed whilst in the Garden Prison, 

Digitized by 


400 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

A^st l ^ e most agreeable, most useful, and at the same time durable, was 
that of a young French merchant ; a man well informed, a friend to 
letters, to science, and the arts ; who spoke and wrote English, and 
had read many of our best authors. To him I am principally indebted 
for having passed some agreeable days in prison, and his name 
therefore merits a place in this history of the misfortune which his 
friendship contributed to alleviate ; nor am I the sole English pri- 
soner who will mention the name of Thomas Pitot with eulogium. 

On the 27th, an English squadron consisting of two ships of 
the line and two frigates, under the command of captain John Osborn, 

Septem&er. arrived to cruise off the island ; and some days afterward, my boat- 
swain and six of the merchant officers, prisoners at Flacq, made 
their escape to one of the ships. The captain-general, in a paroxysm 
of rage, ordered the officer commanding at Flacq to be dismissed, 
and every Englishman in the island, without distinction, to be closely 
confined ; neither paroles of honour, nor sureties, nor permissions 
previously given to depart, being respected. Six were brought to 
the Garden Prison, of whom the captains Moffat and Henry from 
Pamplemousses were two, and their wives followed them. The 
seamen and remaining officers from Flacq passed our gate under a 
strong guard, and were marched to an old hospital about one mile 
on the south-west side of the town ; where the seamen were shut up 
in the lower, and the officers in the upper apartment, there being 
©nly two rooms. 

The arrival of the squadron gave the prisoners a hope of 
being released, either from a general exchange, or for such French- 
men as our ships might take whilst cruising off the island; even 
Mr. Aken and myself, since our swords had been taken away, con- 
ceived some hopes, for we were then prisoners according to the de- 
finition of M. Neufville. There was, however, no intercourse with 
the squadron until the 19th, on which, and the two following days, a 
frigate was lying off the port with a flag of truce hoisted, and boats 
passed and repassed betweeh her and the shore. Our anxiety to 
know the result was not a little ; and we soon learned that captain 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison] TERRA' AUSTRALIS. 401 

Cockburne of the Phaeton had come in for the purpose of seeing iw*- 

° September. 

general De Caen ; but on entering the port he had been met, blind- 
folded, and taken on board the prison ship, which was also the guard 
ship ; that finding he could not see the general, and that no officer 
was sent to treat with him, he left a packet from captain Osborn and 
returned in disgust. His mission, we were told, was to negotiate an « 
exchange of prisorters, particularly mine; but in the answer given 
by general De Caen jt was said, that not being a prisoner of war, 
no exchange for me could be accepted ;,nor did any one obtain his 
liberty in consequence. 

Few persons were admitted to the Garden Prison during the October, 
presence of the English squadron ; J>ut it did not prevent captain 
JBergeret and M. Bonnefoy from coming occasionally. In the end 
of October I learned with much regret, that the interpreter had been 
dismissed from his employment, in consequence of having carried 
only one copy of the same newspaper to general De Caen, when 
two had been found in an American vessel which he had boarded off 
the port, according to custom ; the other had been communicated to 
some of his friends, which was deehied an irremissible offence. This 
obliging man, to' whom I was under obligations for many acts of at- 
tention and some of real service, feared to ask any future permission 
to visit the Garden Prison. 

Admiral Linois arrived from a cruise on the 31st, with three 
- rich prizes, and got into Port Bourbon unimpeded by olir shi^s, 
which were off another part of the island ; and the same evening 
commodore Osborn quitted Mauritius. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Webb 
of the Aplin were now permitted to go to England by the way of November. 
Aonerica ; and I took the good opportunity of sending by the first of 
these gentlemen a copy of the general chart of Terra Australis, 
comprehending the whole of my discoveries and examinations in 
abridgment, and a paper on the magnetism of ships addressed to the 
president of the Royal Society.* Four officers of the army also 

•This paper was read before the Society, and published in the Transactions of 1805, 
Part II. 

VOL. II. 3 F 

Digitized by 


402 A VOYAGE TO [AtMauriti^ 


obtained permission to go to India, on condition of returning, should 
four French officers whose names were specified, be not sent back 
in exchange; and two other gentlemen left the Garden Prison, and 
the island soon afterward. In lieu of these, were sent in captain 
Turner and lieutenant Cartwright of the Indian army, and the officers 
of the Princess Charlotte indiaman. 

By information received from the Grande-Riviere prison, 
where the merchant officers and the seamen were confined; it ap- 
peared that my six remaining people, and no doubt many others, 
were very miserable and almost naked*; having been hurried off 
suddenly from Flacq, and compelled to leave their few clothes be- 
hind. On this occasion I addressed the captain-general on the score 
of humanity, intreatinghim either to order their clothes to be restored, 
or that they should be furnished with others ; and on the same day 
an answer was returned in the most polite manner by colonel 
D'Arsonval, saying that an order had been given for all the pri- 
soners to be fresh clothed, and their wants supplied. Six weeks af- 
terward, however, finding that the poor seamen remained in the 
same naked state as before, I wrote to remind the town major of 
what he had said ; requesting at the same time, if it were not in- 
tended to give these unfortunate men any clothing, that Mr. Aken 
might be permitted to visit them, in order to relieve their urgent 
necessities from my own purse. No answer was returned to this 
letter, but it produced the desired effect. 
December. My hope* of a speedy liberation by an order of the first con- 

sul became weakened in December, on seeing nothing arrive to 
confirm them after a whole year's imprisonment. On the 17th I 
wrote to remind the captain-general that one year had elapsed ; and 
requested him to consider that the chance of war rendered the arrival 
of despatches uncertain,— that I was suffering an irretrievable loss 
of time, and very severely in my health, advancement, and every 
thing that man holds dear ; 1 begged him to reflect, that the 
rights of the most severe justice would be ensured by sending me 

Digitized by 


Garde* Prism] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 403 

to France, where the decision of ray fate was remitted ; and where, pj 80 ^ 
should the judgment of the French government be favourable, it 
could be immediately followed by a return to my country and fa- 
mily, and the resumption of my peaceable labours. No answer being 
given at the end of a week, a second letter was sent, inclosing a copy 
of the extract from captain JBaudin ; and His Excellency was re- 
quested to compare the treatment of the French commander at Port 
Jackson with what I had received at Mauritius, and at least to give 
Mr. Aken and myself the liberty of some district in the island where 
we might take exercise, and find the amusement necessary to the 
re-establishment of our health ; but neither of these letters obtained 
any reply, or. the least notice. 

Mr. Aken had been removed to the hospital in September, and 
after a stay of six weeks had returned, more from finding himself 
so ill accommodated and fed than from the improvement in his 
health. He now declined rapidly ; and my own health was impaired l8 °s. 

* January* 

by a constitutional gravelly complaint to which confinement had 
given accelerated force, and by a bilious disorder arising partly from 
the same cause, from the return of hot^ weather, and discouraging 
reflections on our prospects. We were therefore visited by Dr. 
Laborde, principal physician of the medical staff, who judged the air - 
and exercises of the country to be the most certain means of restora- 
tion ; and in order to our procuring them, he gave a certificate which 
I sent to general De Caen through colonel Monistrol, then become 
town major. No answer was returned ; but after some days it was 
told me that Dr. Laborde had received a message from the general, 
> desiring him not to interfere with matters which did not concern 
him ; and this was the sole mark of attention paid to his certificate 
or to our situation.* 

Being thus disappointed in every attempt to procure an 

* The doctor had said in his certificate, " J'estime qu'H faut pr^venir l'aiigroenta- 
€i tion de ses raaiyt ; et en le secour^t Apropos, c'est assurer la conservation d'un homme 
u dont*le3 travail* doivent serviraux progrea des sciences, et & Futility de ses sembtyble§." 

Digitized by 


404 A VOYAGE TO % [At Mauritius. 

1805. amelioration for my companion and myself, I sought the means of 
dispensing with the captain-general's humanity. I rose very early, 
and took much exercise in our inclosure before the heat of the sun 
became too powerful ; and applied closely to the charts and accounts 
of my voyage, which ill health and a languid melancholy had 
for some time caused to be neglected. By perseverance in these 
means, my disorders were at least prevented from becoming worse ; 
but more particularly I acquired a tranquil state of mind, and had 
even the happiness of forgetting general De Caen, sometimes for 
days together. The strength of my companion was too much 
exhausted for such a regimen ; and he was obliged to return 
to the hospital, being so much reduced that there was reason to 
fear for his life. 

Several military and merchant officers obtained permissions at 
this time to depart on parole, some to India, others to America ; 
which furnished opportunities of writing many letters. I addressed 
one to admiral Rainier, the commander in chief of His Majesty's ships 
in India, upon the subject of my detention ; and another to lord Wil- 
liam Bentinck, governor of Madras, in favour of two relations of 
my friend Pitot, who were prisoners under his government; and it 
is with much gratitude to His Lordship that I add his more than 
compliance with the request: he not only set the two prisoners at 
liberty, but used his encjeavours to procure my release from general 
De Caen. 

On the 29th, an American vessel arrived from France with many 
passengers, and amongst them monsieur Barrois, the brother-in-law 
of the general. He was charged with despatches ; and I was told 
upon good authorities that he had been sent to France in Le Ge'ographe 
upon the same service, in December 1803. The knowledge of 
this fact gave an insight into various circumstances which took place 
at, and soon after my arrival at Mauritius. Le G6ographe having 
an English passport, was equally bound with myself to observe 
a strict neutrality ; and the conveyance of an officer with public 

Digitized by 


Garden Priion.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 405 

despatches in time of war was therefore improper. Common report l805 - 
said, that captain Melius objected to it, as compromising the safety of 
his ship and results of the voyage ; but on its being known from the 
signals that an English vessel was on the south side of the island, 
M- Barrois embarked secretly, and the ship was ordered off the same 
evening. Hence I missed seeing her, and was arrested on arriving 
at Port Louis without examination ; and hence it appeared to have 
been, that an embargo was immediately laid on all foreign ships for 
ten days, that none of our cruisers might get information of the 
circumstance and stop Ld G6ographe ; hence also the truth of what 
was told me in the Cafe Marengo, that my confinement did not arise 
from any thing I had done. 

Such was the respect paid by general De Caen to the English 
passport ; and how little sacred he held that given by his own govern- 
ment for the protection of the Investigator's voyage, will in part 
have already appeared. The conduct of the British governmertt 
and its officers in these two cases was widely different. In conse- 
quence of the English passport, the G6ographe and Naturaliste 
were received at Port Jackson as friends, and treated with the kind- 
ness due to their employment and distressed situation, as will satis- 
factorily, appear from M. Peron's account of their voyage ; and with 
regard to the French passport, it may be remembered that the Ad- 
miralty directed me, on leaving England, not even to take letters or 
packets other than such as might be received from that office, or 
that of the secretary of state ; and the despatches sent from those 
offices were to governor King alone, and related solely to the Inves- 
tigator's voyage. I was ordered to stop at Madeira and the Cape 
of Good Hope, but neither to the officers commanding His Majesty's 
land or sea forces at one, nor at the other place was any despatch 
sent ; although no opportunity of writing to the Cape had for some 
time presented itself. 

The return of M. Barrois gave a reasonable hope that the captain- February, 
general might have received orders concerning me, and that some- 

Digitized by 





[At Mauritius. 


thing would be immediately determined ; but a whole month passed in 
silence as so many others had before done. It was reported, however, 
as having come from the general, that the council of state had ap- 
proved of the precautions he had taken ; but whether it had decided 
upon my being set at liberty, sent to France, or continued a prisoner, 
was not said. 

There were at this time only six officers m the Garden Prison, 
Mr. Aken being still at the hospital ; lieutenant Manwaring of the 
Bombay marine, before commander of the Fly packet, with two of 
his officers had possession of one part of the house, and Messrs. Dale 
and Seymopr, midshipmen of the D6daigneuse, lived with me in the 
other. These two young gentlemen, the first in particular, aided 
me in making copies of charts and memoirs, in calculating astrono- 
mical observations, &c. ; and I had much pleasure in furnishing them 
with books and assisting their studies. 

In the beginning of March, I was surprised to see in the -official 
gazette of the French government, the Moniteur of July 7, 1804, a 
long letter from Dunkirk addressed to the editor; containing many 
particulars of my voyage, praising the zeal with which it had been 
conducted, and describing my detention in Mauritius as a circum- 
stance which had originated in a mistake and was understood to be 
tehninated. In the succeeding Moniteur of the nth, some observa- 
tions were made upon this letter on the part of the government, 
which afforded some insight into what was alleged against me ; and 
these being important to the elucidation of general De Caen's policy, 
a translation of them is here given. 

M ©niteur, No. 292. 

Wednesday 22 Messidor, year 12; or July 11, 1804. 

In a letter from Dunkirk, addressed to the editor of the Moniteur, and 
inserted in the paper of the 18th of this month, No. 288, we read an account 
of the voyage of Mr. Flinders, an English navigator, who arrived at the Isle 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.} TERRA AUSTRALIS. 40T 

of France the 24 Frimaire last, in the schooner Cumberland. The author 1805. 

of the letter in the Moniteur says, that Mr. Flinders, « not knowing of the 

ec war, stopped at the Isle of France which was in his route, to' obtain water 

<c and refreshments : that some secret articles in his instructions gave rise to 

<€ suspicions upon which the captain- general at first thought it his duty to detain 

" him prisoner; but that, nevertheless, the passports he had obtained from the 

" French government and all other nations, the nature tven of his expedition 

€€ which interested all civilized people, were not long in procuring his release." 

The fact is, that Mr. Flinders not knowing of, but suspecting the war, 
ventured to come to the Isle of France; where haying learned its declaration, 
he doubted whether the passport granted him by the French government in 
the year 9, would serve him. In reality, the passport was exclusively for the 
sloop Investigator, of which it contained the description; and it is not in the 
Investigator that he has been arrested, but in the Cumberland. 

The same passport did not permit Mr. Flinders to stop fit French 
colonies but on condition that he ah^uld not deviate from his route to go 
there; and Mr. Flinders acknowledges in his journal that hje deviated volun- > 
tarily, (for the Isle of France was not in bis passage, as the author of the 
above cited letter says). In fine, the passport granted to Mr. Flinders did 
not admit of any equivocation upon the objects of the expedition for which 
it was given : but we read in one part of his journal, that he suspected the 
war; and in another, that he had resolved to touch at the Isle of France, as % 
well in the hope of selling his vessel advantageously, as from the desire of know* 
ing the present state of that colony, and the utility of which it and its depen- 
dencies in Madagascar could be to Port Jackson. 

As the passport given by the French government to ]\fr. Flinders, an 
English navigator, was far from admitting an examination of that nature in 
a French colony ; it is not at all surprising that tl^e captain-general of that 
colony has arrested him ; and petfring a?noupces as yet, (hat he has thought 
it necessary to release him. 

An elaborate refutation of these trifling, and in part false and 
contradictory charges, will not, I should hope, be thought necessary. 
By turning to pages 351, 352, and cgmparing my reasons for putting 
in at Mauritius with what the Moniteur says, it will be seen that the 

Digitized by 


408 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. + necessity of the measure, arising from the bad state of the Cumber- 
land, is kept wholly out of sight ; and that in giving the subor- 
dinate reasons, there is much omission and misrepresentation. The 
charges, even as they stand in the Moniteur, amount to nothing, if 
my suspicion of the war be taken away; and it has no other founda- 
tion than that, being a stranger to what had passed in Europe for 
twelve months, I thought there was a possibility of war between 
England and France ; and thence deduced an additional reason for 
stopping at Mauritius where my passport would be respected, in 
preference t6 going on to the Cape t>f Good Hope where it might 
not. This suspicion, whicfr is twice brought forward, is moreover 
contradicted by inference, in the Moniteur itself. It says, " Mr. 
" Flinders not knowing of, but suspecting the war, ventured to come 
" to the Isle of France; where having learned its declaration, he 
" doubted whether the passport would serve him." Now it is not 
credible, that with such a suspicion, and being aware, consequently, 
of the great importance of the passport, I should wait until arriv- 
ing at the island before seeking to know its particular contents ; but 
going to Mauritius under the belief of peace, and finding war de- 
clared, an examination of the passport was then natural. It is true 
that I did then entertain some apprehensions, from not finding any pro- 
vision made for another vessel in case of shipwreck or other accident 
to the Investigator; but my confidence in the justice and liberality 
of the French government overcame them ; and had general Magai- 
lon remained governor, this confidence would most probably have 
befen justified by the event. 

How my reasons for stopping at Mauritius were worded in the 
log book, I certainly do not remember correctly, nor how far they 
were accompanied with explanations ; and particular care has been 
taken to prevent me giving the words themselves ; but is it possible 
to suppose, that suspecting the war and entertaining inimical designs, 
I Should have inserted this suspicion and these designs in my com- 
mon journal ? Or that, having done so, the book would have been 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.] TERRA AUSTRAL1S. 409 

put into the hands of general De Caen's secretary, and these very "JJ 5 * 
passages pointed out for him to copy ? Yet the reasons alleged in the 
Moniteur, to be true, require no less. 

. The assertion that I acknowledge to have deviated voluntarily 
from my route, for the Isle of France was not in my passage, — if 
voluntary mean, without necessity, must be false altogether. I had 
intended to pass the island without stopping, and probably said so ; 
but that the intention was altered voluntarily, could not have been 
said, for the necessity arising from the bad state of the. schooner >was 
alleged for it. Whether Mauritius be in the passage from Timor to 
the Cape of Good Hope, any seaman or geographer who knows the 
trade winds, can tell : it is as much in the passage as is the Cape in 
going from Europe to India. The above assertion induced me to 
examine captain Cook's track from Timor to the Cape, as it is traced 
upon Arrowsmith's general chart, and to measure the distance from 
a certain part of it to Port Louis, and from thence to regaii) the track 
really made ; and I found that his distance would not have been 
increased so much as one hundred miles; or less than. the half of what 
ships augment their distance by stopping at Table Bay, in their route 
to India. It may perhaps be said, that my voluntary deviation aod 
the island not being in the passage, apply only to my intention of 
passing Mauritius and then changing it. If so, the assertion could 
only be made for superficial readers, and contains nothing; such, in 
fact, are all the charges when duly examined, not excepting the pre- 
tence that the passport was exclusively for the Investigator; and more 
has already been said upon them than is due to their real impprtance. 
These Moniteurs, however, informed me of two material circum- 
stances, — that there was at least one person in France who viewed 
my detention in its true light, and that the government had either been 
deceived by the representations of general De Caen, or coincided with 
his views from some secret motive; consequently, that too much 
reliance ought not to be placed in an early liberation by its orders. 
I then determined to write to monsieur De Fleurieu, author of the 
vol. ii. 3 G 

Digitized by 


410 A VOYAGE TO {At MawiUxtt. 

^1806. instructions to La Pdrouse, &c, and counsellor of state, who might 


be supposed to interest himself in my voyage ; afid annexed to the 
letter copies of papers showing the reception given to the French 
ships at Port Jackson, and the necessity which had forced me to stop 
at Mauritius ; and begged him in the name of humanity and the 
sciences, to use his influence that I might either be permitted to con- 
tinue the voyage, or otherwise be ordered to France for examination. 
My worthy friend Pitot wrote to the same effect, to M. De Bougain- 
ville, the navigator and counsellor of state, — to M. De la Lande, the 
astronomer,— to M. Chaptal, minister of the interior, — and to M. 
Dupuis, counsellor of state ; and admiral Linois had the goodness to 
write to M. De Fleurieu in favour of my request. At the s?me time 
I wrote to the secretary of the Admiralty, inclosing a copy of the 
first letter ; and all these being sent away in duplicate, by oppor- 
tunities which occurred soon afterward, every step seemed to have 
been taken that could afford any hope of liberty and the restitution 
of my books and papers. 

April. The fate of my officers and people on board the Rolla had been 

a subject of some anxiety ; but about this time I had the satisfaction 
to learn from the public papers, that they had arrived safely in 
England ; that lieutenant Fowler and the officers and company bf 
the Porpoise had been honourably acquitted of all blame for the loss 
of the ship, and that Mr. Fowler had much distinguished himself in 
the action between the China fleet and admiral linois' squadron. 

May. Permissions being granted to several prisoners to go away on 

their parole in American vessels, Mr. Aken, who still remained at 
the hospital, conceived hopes that his might pass amongst the rest, 
if he applied. In this notion I encouraged him, since my own pro- 
spects were so obscure; and recommended that his plea should turn 
wholly upon his long-continued ill health, and to say nothing of Iris 
connexion with me. The application was made accordingly; and on 
the 7th, he dame to the Garden Prison with the unexpected informa- 
tion of being then at liberty to depart, on giving his parole " not to 

Digitized by 


Garden Bison.} TERRA AUSTRALIA 411 

" serve against France or its allies, until after having been legally 18 °5' 
u exchanged ;" that is, as a prisoner of wan 

It seemed doubtful whether this permission had been granted * 
from motives of humanity, from forgetfulness, or from some new 
plan having been adopted; the general might possibly have received 
orders, permitting him to dispose of us as he should think proper, 
and have no objection to getting rid of me also, as a prisoner of war, 
provided an application gave him the opportunity. In this uncer- 
tainty of wliat might be his intentions, I wrote to colonel Monistrol, 
requesting him to state the length of my imprisonment and ill health ; 
and to move His Excellency to let me depart on parole, or in any 
other way he should judge proper; but it appeared after waiting 
several days, that the colonel foreseeing the request could answer 
no purpose, had not laid it before the captain-general. I then re- 
solved to make good use of the opportunity presented by Mr. 
Aken's departure, and from this time to that of his sailing, was fully 
occupied in making up my despatches; and Mr. Aken's health being 
improved, he took up his residence in the Garden Prison for the pur- 
pose of giving his assistance. 

Besides a general chart of Terra Australis, showing the whole 
of my discoveries, examinations and tracks in abridgment, this packet 
for the Admiralty contained. nine sheets upon a scale of four inches to 
a degree of longitude, and three sheets of particular parts in a larger 
size ; also, five chapters of a memoir explanatory of their construction, 
of the changes in the variation on shipboard, &c; an enlarged copy 
of my log book, with remarks and astronomical observations from 
the commencement of the voyage to quitting the north coast of 
Terra Australis in March 1803; and a bQok containing all the 
bearings sqid angles which entered into the cpnstruction of the 
charts. The time keeper, with the mathematical and nautical in^ 
struments belonging to the Navy Board were also sent ; and in fine, 
either the original or a copy of every thing in my possession which 
related either to the Investigator or the voyage. 

Digitized by 


412 A VOYAGE TO [A Mauritius, 

*®° 5 - Mr. Campbell, commander of the American ship James, bound 

to New York, liberally gave Mr. Aken and some other prisoners a 
passage free of expense;* and the paroles they were required to sign 
laying no other injunction than that of not serving until legally ex- 
changed, the books, &c. above mentioned, with many letters both 
public and private, were safely embarked ; and on the 20th in the 
evening, the ship got under sail, to my great satisfaction. Of the 
ten officers and men who had come with me to Mauritius, only four 
now remained ; one was in the hospital with a broken leg, another 
with me in the Garden Prison, and two were shut up at the Grande 
Riviere. A seaman had been allowed to go with Mr. Aken in the 
James, and all our endeavours were used to obtain permission for 
the two in prison to embark also, but without effect ; about a month 
afterwards, however, they were suffered to enter on board an Ame- 
rican ship, at the request of the commander. 

June On June 4, a fortnight after Mr. Aken had sailed, captain 

Osborn again came off the island, with His Majesty's ships Tre- 
mendous, Grampus, Pitt, and Terpsichore ; and an embargo on all 
foreign vessels was, as usual, the immediate consequence. On the 
23rd, the ship Thetis arrived from Bengal under cartel colours, 
having on board captain Bergeret, with such of his officers and people 
as had not been killed in the action he had sustained against our 
frigate the St. Fiorenzo. This arrival animated the spirits of all the 
prisoners in the island ; and the return of my friend Bergeret even 

* It gives me pleasure to say, that almost the whole of the American commanders 
were ready to accommodate the English prisoners who, from time to time, obtained 
leave to depart, and the greater number without any other expense than that of laying in 
provisions for themselves ; some were received on board as officers for wages, and 
others had a table found for them without any specified duty being required. In most 
cast s these were beneficent actions, for, as will readily be imagined, the greater part of 
the prisoners had no means of obtaining money in Mauritius ; the military officers, how* 
ever, and those who had money at their disposal, were required to pay for their passages, 
and in some cases, dear enough. 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 418 

gave me some hcpes, particularly after the reception of a note from 1806 * 
him, promising to use his exertions to obtain a favourable change in 
my situation. Mr. Richardson, commander of the Thetis, informed 
us some days afterward, that all . the prisoners of war would be Jul/, 
allowed to go to India in his ship, and that hopes were entertained 
of an application for me also being successful. Captain Bergeret 
did not call until the 3rd of July, after having used his promised 
endeavours in vain, as I had foreseen from the delay of his visit ; for 
every good Frenchman has an invincible dislike to be the bearer of 
disagreeable intelligence. 

On the 5th, a letter came from Mr. Lumsden, chief secretary 
of the government at Calcutta, acknowledging the receipt of mine 
addressed to the marquis Wellesley in May 1804 ; he said in reply, 
" that although the governor-general had felt the deepest regret at 
" the circumstances of my detention and imprisonment, it had 
" not been in His Excellency's power to remedy either before the 
" present time. The ship Thetis," he added, " now proceeds to the 
" Isle of France as a cartel ; and I have the honour to transmit to 
" you the annexed extract from the letter of the governor-general 
" to His Excellency general De Caen, captain-general of the French 
" establishments to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope. The 
«■ governor-general entertains no doubt that the captain-general of 
" the Isle of France will release you immediately on receipt of that 
" letter/' 

Extract. — I avail myself of this opportunity to request youV Excel- 
lency's particular attention to the truly severe case of captain Flinders ; and 
I earnestly request Your Excellency to release captain Flinders imme- 
diately, and to allow him either to take his passage to India in the Thetis, or 
to return to India in the first neutral ship. 

Mr. Lumsden's letter and the above extract were inclosed to 
me by the secretary of general De Caen, who at the same time said, 

Digitized by 


414 A VOYAGE TO {AtManrHiu*. 

1805. « J wish with all my heart that the captain-general could accede to 
" the request of His Excellency the marquis Wellesley ; but the 
" motives of your detention having been of a nature to be submitted 
" to the French government, the captain-general cannot, before he 
" has received an answer, change any thing in the measures which 
" have been adopted on your account." Thus whatever hope had 
been entertained of liberation from the side of India was done away, 
but I did not feel less gratitude to the noble marquis for his attempt; 
after eighteen months of indignities, this attention, and the previous 
arrival of the two relations of my friend Pitot, set at liberty by lord 
William Bentinck, were gratifying proofs that my situation was 
known and excited an interest in India. 

An exchange of prisoners was soon afterwards agreed upon 
between commodore Osborn and colonel Monistrol, with the excep- 
tion of post-captains and commanders in the navy and officers of simi- 
lar rank in the army; it was not said that the exceptions had any 
reference to captain Bergeret or myself, the sole officers in Mauritius 
Of the ranks specified, but it seemed probable. 

On the 28th, the ship Prime arrived from Bombay with French 
prisoners, having on board lieutenant Blast of the Company's ma* 
fine, as agent ; admiral Iinois t had met the ship near Ceylon, and 
taken seventy-nine of the French seamen on board his squadron, 
ftdtwkhitanding the representation of Mr. Blast that no exchange 
had yet been settled. This proceeding was said to be disapproved 
by general De Caen ; and afterwards to be the cause of the exchange 
being declared void by Sir Edward Pellew, then become commander 
in chief in the Indian seas. 
August. There was at this time an almost uncontrolled liberty to enter 

the Garden Prison, and I was favoured with frequent visits by Mr. 
Richardson of the Thetis, and by Messrs. Blast, Madegon, and 
Davies of the Prime; these gentlemen, finding they should be obliged 
- to leave me behind and alone, rendered every service I could per- 
mit myself to receive at their hands, and made an impression by 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.'] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 41S 

their kindness which will ever be retained. From their conversation ^°*- 


1 learned what was the treatment of French prisoners at Bengal and 
Bombay ; and the contrast it formed with that of English officers 
and seamen in Mauritius, both in the degree of liberty and allowance 
for subsistence, was indeed striking. Something has already been 
said upon this subject, and much more might be said ; but it is a 
more agreeable task to bestow praise where it can with truth be 
given. It is therefore with pleasure, and with gratitude on the part 
of my unfortunate countrymen to admiral Linois and the officers of 
his squadron, as also to the commanders of privateers, that I declare 
no one of the several prisoners I conversed with to have made any 
complaint of them ; on the contrary, almost all acknowledged to 
have been treated with kindness whilst on board, and except some- 
times a little pilfering by the sailors, to have lost nothing of what 
they had a right to keep by the received usages of war ; the trunks 
of many were not searched, it being only required of the possessor 
to declare, that it was his private property and that no letters or 
journals were contained therein. When the Fly packet was taken 
by the privateer La Fortune, lieutenant Manwaring's table plate t 

and time keeper were returned to him; and his treatment by M". 
Lameme was altogether so liberal, when compared with the usual 
conduct of privateers in Europe, as to merit being cited. 

In order to give some notion of the mischief done to British 
commerce in India, by ships from Mauritius, an abstract of all the 
captures made in the first sixteen months of the war, so far as they 
came to our knowledge in the Garden Prison, is subjoined. There 
are. probably several omissions ; and the supposed values annexed to 
them are the least that can be estimated, perhaps not exceeding two- 
thirds of the prime cost. 

Digitized by 



A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius 

1805. By admiral Linois' squadron, three Indiamen and 

UgU * ' fjve country ships mostly large, - - £ 5°5-> 000 
By La Psyche privateer, one Indiaman and two 

private ships, - • - - 95>°o° 

La Henriette, six ships and small vessels, - 150,000 

La Fortune, one packet, three ships, four small vessels, 103,000 

„ Cutter commanded by Surcouf, four vessels, . - 75»o°° 

L' Alfred, one ship, - - - - 10,000 

Le Pariah, one ship, - - - 10,000 

Brought into Port Louis, 948,000 
Ships known to have been sent to France or" 

Batavia, run on shore, or sunk at sea, - - 200,000 
Mischief done at Bencoolen by admiral Linois' 

squadron, - - - 800,000 

Estimated loss to British commerce in 16 months, £ 1948,000 

The sailing of the Thetis and Prime, and of a little brig 
'named the Ariel which had brought prisoners from Ceylon, was de- 
layed until the cruising squadron had left the island. On the 13th 
commodore Osborn took his departure, and my young friends Dale 
and Seymour quitted the Garden Prison ; the first carrying for me 
a letter to Sir Edward Pellew, giving an account of my situation, 
and another to Mr. Lumsden, informing him of the little success 
attending the governor-general's request. In the evening of the 
' same day the cartels sailed ; and I remained with my servant, who 
refused to profit by the occasion of obtaining his liberty, and my lame 
seaman, the sole English prisoners at Mauritius. 

Captain Bergeret informed me two days afterward, that the 
general was disposed to permit of my residence in the interior part of 
the island ; and he advised a written application to be made, speci- 
fying the place of my choice. After consulting with M. Pitot.who 
had received several offers to accommodate me from different parts 
of the island, I wrote on the 17th, pointing out the plantation of 

Digitized by 


Garden Prison.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 417 

Madame D'Arifat at Wilhems Plains ; which being at some distance - 1805 - 


from the sea, seemed least liable to objection. On the 19th, a polite 
note from colonel Monistrol said that my request was granted ; and 
he sent word next day, that I was at liberty to quit the Garden Prison, 
and pass two or three days in town previously to going into the 
country ; and being importuned by my friend Pitot to spend the 
evening with him, immediate advantage was taken of the permission. 
On taking leave of the old serjeant, who had behaved kindly 
to all the prisoners, and finding myself without side the iron gate, 
I felt that even a prison one has long inhabited is not quitted with- 
out some sentiment of regret, unless it be to receive liberty. Of 
the twenty months which my detention had now reached, more than 
sixteen had been passed in the Garden Prison, sometimes rather 
lightly, but the greater part in bitterness ; and my strength affd 
appearance were so changed, that I felt to be scarcely recognisable 
for the same person who had supported so much fatigue in exploring 
the coasts of Terra Australis. 

Various observations had been taken in the Garden Prison, 
both by Mr. Aken and myself, principally for our amusement and 
to exercise Messrs. Dale and Seymour in the calculations. The 
corrected results of my observations were as follow : 
Latitude from eight meridian altitudes of the 
sun, taken with a sextant and artificial 
horizon, - - - , - 20 9' ig',5 S. 

Longitude from twenty-seven sets of lunar 
distances, the particulars of which are 
given in Table IX. of the first Appendix to 
this volume, , - - gj 30 4,2 E. 

Variation of the theodolite from azimtiths 
a. m. and p. m. - - - 1 1 42 30 W. 

The middle of the town being nearly one mile south-west from the 
prison, its situation should be, 

Rort Louis, latitude 20? 9' 56" south 
longitude 57 29 57 east. 
vol. 11. 3 H 

Digitized by 


418 A VOYAGE TO [AtMawiims. 


Parole given. Journey into the interior of Mauritius. The governor's 
country seat. Residence at the Refuge, in that part of Wilhems Plains 
called Facouas. Its situation and climate, with the- mountains, rivers, 
cascades, and views near it. The Mare aux Vacouas ajtd Grand 
Bassin. State of cultivation and produce of Vacouas ; its black 
ebony, game y and wild fruits ; and freedom from noxious insects. 

1805. JVxy first visit after being liberated from the Garden. Prison-, was 
ugUB ' to captain Bergeret, whose interposition I considered to have been 
the principal cause of this favourable change ; he obligingly offered 
me the accommodation of his lodging whilst in town, but M. Pitot 
had previously engaged my residence with him. Next morning I 
accompanied captain Bergeret to the town-major's office for the pur- 
pose of giving my parole, which colonel MonistroL proposed to take* 
verbally; but to avoid all future misundertanding, I* desired that it 
might be taken in writing, and two days afterward it was made out 
as follows. 

His Excellency the captain-general De Caen having given me 
permission to reside at Wilhems Plains, at the habitation of Madame 
D'Arifat, I do hereby promise, upon my parole of honour, not to go 
more than the distance of two leagues from the said habitation, with- 
out His Excellency's permission ; and to conduct myself with that, 
proper degree of reserve, becoming an officer residing in a country 
with which his nation is at war. I will also answer for the proper 
conduct of my two servants. 

Town of Port North-west, Matthew Flinders. 

August 23, 1805 

The habitation, for so plantations are here called, which was 

Digitized by 


Port Louis.] TERRA AUSTfcALIS, 4ll 

to be my residence, belonged to a respectable widow with a- larg6 *f*|*k 
family; and was represented tol>e five French leagues, or twelve miles 
from the town, in a S. S. W. diretefion. The permission to range 
two leagues all round I considered to be ah approach towards liber- 
ality; and a proof that, if general De Caen had ever really believed 
me to be a spy, he had ceased to think so ; it was not indeed con- 
sistent with the reason alleged for my imprisonment, to grant a 
parole at all, but this it Was ho part of my business to point but. On 
the other hand, by sighing this parole I cut hiyself off from the 
possibility of an escape ; but it sefemed incredible, after the various 
letters written and representations made both in England and France, 
that a favourable order should not arrive in six or eight months. I 
moreover entertained some hopes of Mauritius being attacked, for it 
was not to be imagined that either the East-India company or the 
government should quietly submit to such losses as it caused to 
British commerce ; and if attacked With judgment, it appeared to 
me that a moderate force would carry it ; upon this subject, how- 
ever, an absolute silence was preserved in my letters, for although 
the passport had been so violated by general De Caen, I was deter- 
mined to adhere to it strictly. 

During four days stay in the town of Port Louis no restric- 
tion of any kind was imposed ; I visited the theatre, and several 
families to whom my friends Pitot and Bergeret introduced me, and 
passed the time as pleasantly as any one who spoke ho Frehch could 
do in such a situation. A youhg Englishman, who under the name 
of an American expected to sail immediately for Europe, tobk charge 
of a box containing letters and papers for the Admiralty and presi- 
dent of the Royal Society, one of which was upon the effect produced 
on the marine barometer by sea and land winds ;* and on the 24th in 
the afternoon I set off with M. Pitot's family for their country house, 
which was four miles on the way to my intended residence. 

On the following day we visited the country seat of the 
• This paper appeared in the Society's Transaction of 1806, Part II. 

Digitized by 


420 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 


governor, called the Reduit, about seven miles from the town, and 
at the edge of my limit of two leagues from the habitation at Wil- 
hems Plains. It stands upon an elevated point of land between the 
Rivtere de Mocha, which comes from the east, and an equally large 
stream which collects the waters of Wilhems Plains from the south- 
ward ; their junction at this place forms the Grande Riviere, and 
the Reduit commands a view of its windings in the low land to the 
north, until it is discharged into the sea about a mile on the west 
side of Port Louis. There was little water in the two rivers at this 
time ; but the extraordinary depth oT their channels, which seemed to 
be not less than a hundred feet, and to have been cut through the 
solid rock, bespoke that the current must be immense during the 
hurricanes and heavy summer rains ; and the views which the dif- 
ferent falls of water amongst the overhanging woods will then pre- 
sent, cannot be otherwise than highly picturesque. At the Reduit 
the sides of these ravines were planted with the waving bamboo, and 
the road leading up to the house, with the gardens around it, werfe 
shaded by the mango and various other fruit trees ; but all was 
in great disorder, having suffered more than neglect during the 
turbulent period of the French revolution. The house was said to 
be capable of containing thirty-five beds, and was at this time in a 
state of preparation for general De Caen ; and when completed, and 
the gardens, alleys, fish ponds, and roads put into order, it would be 
an elegant residence for the governor of the island. Our inspec- 
tion was confined to the gardens and prospects, from the house being 
shut up ; we afterwards made a rural dinner under the shade of a 
banian tree, and my friend Pitot, with M. Bayard, a judge in the court 
of appeal, then separated from their families to conduct me onward 
to my asylum. 

Instead of taking the direct road, they pursued a winding 
route more to the eastward, to pay a visit to M. Plumet, a friend of 
the judge ; and we reached his habitation not much before sunset, 
though still four or five miles short of our destination. Thus far I 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 421 

found the country to be stony and not very fertile, the roads bad isos. 
and irregular, with several places in them which ipust be impracti- 
cable in the heavy rains ; here and there, however, we were grati- 
fied with the view of country houses, surrounded with fruit trees and 
well watered gardens ; and once turned out of the road to see a 
water fall made by a considerable stream down a precipice of at least 
a hundred feet. The cultivated fields seemed to be generally planted 
either with sugar cane, maize, or manioc, but we were often in the 
shade of the primitive woods, ' ■ , 

M. Plumet had" passed many years in India, in the service of 
Scindeah, the Mahratta chief, and spoke some English ; he received 
us so kindly that we remained with him until the following after- 
noon, and his habitation being within my limits, he invited me to * 
visit him afterwards. From the time of quitting the port we had 
been continually ascending ; so that here the elevation was probably 
not less than a thousand feet, and the climate and productions were 
much altered. Coffee seemed to be a great object of attention, and 
, there were some rising plantations of clove trees ; I found also 
strawberries, and even a few young oaks of tolerable growth. A 
vast advantage, as well as ornament in this and many other parts of 
the island, is the abundance of never failing streams ; by which the 
gardens are embellished with cascades and fish ponds, and their 
fruit trees and vegetables watered at little expense. 

Quitting M. Plumet in the afternoon of the 26th, we rode in 
intricate paths and crossed various plantations to get into the direct 
road. In these, besides sugar cane, coffee, maize, and manioc, some 
fields were totally covered with a creeping plant bearing a heart- 
shaped leaf; this was the patate, or sweet potatoe, a root of great 
utility to the nourishment of the slaves ; and in the higher parts of the 
island, where it succeeds best, is a favourite object of cultivation, 
being little subject to injury from the hurricanes. As we advanced 
the streams became smaller and more numerous, and the uncleared 
wood* more extensive ; the country was still partly covered with 

Digitized by 


422 A VOYAGE TO [JtMrnmHiu. 

1805, large stones ; but I remarked with some surprise, that the proctac- 


tions of the stony land were generally the most vigorous. 

Neither of my conductors were acquainted with the place of 
my retreat; they inquired of every black man on the road, as to the 
right path and the distance that yet remained ; but ofterr could get 
no answer, — sometimes it was three-quarters, and sometimes two 
leagues ; at length we found ourselves surrounded on all sides by 
wood, the road had diminished to a foot path, it was dark, and began 
to rain. It was then judged necessary to turn back and make for a 
light near the road, to obtain a guide ; and it seemed odd that the 
person applied to should answer in English, that the plantation of 
Madame D'Arifat was just bye. He proved to be an Irishman 
named Druse, who had been settled more than twenty years in this 
distant island as a carpenter ; he had known that an English officer 
was coming to reside here, and undertook to be our guide, seeming 
to be not a little pleased at again using his native language. 

A black man who had charge of the plantation in the absence 
of the proprietor, had received orders to accommodate us ; but not 
finding my servant and lame seaman who should have arrived 
the day before, we walked half a league to the habitation of M. de 
Chazal, a friend of M. Pitot who had the goodness to send out my 
baggage. Next morning we returned, and my abode was fixed in 
one of two little pavilions detached from the house, the other being 
appropriated to my two men ; and M. Pitot having brought me 
acquainted with a family resident on an adjoining plantation, and 
made some inquiries and arrangements as to supplies of provisions, 
he and his companion M. Bayard then returned to the town. 
September. My attention for the first several weeks was principally directed 

to acquiring a knowledge of the surrounding country, its natural 
curiosities and romantic views ; and as these are well worth notice, 
a description of the most remarkable objects, with an account of the 
cultivation anc^ produce of this secluded part of Mauritius, may. pro- 
bably be acceptable to some readers. 

Digitized by 


Wilkem* Pimm.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 4& 

The district or quarter called Wilhems Plains, occupies a con- gjjjjj^ 
siderable portion of the interior of the island ; its northern extremity 
borders on the sea by the side of the district of Port Louis, from 
which it is separated by the Grande Rivtere ; and it extends south- 
ward from thence, rising gradually in elevation and increasing in 
breadth. The body of the quarter is bounded to the N. E. by the 
district of Mocha, — to the S. E. by that of Port Bourbon or the 
Grand Port,— to the south by the quarter of La Savanne, — and to 
t\ie west by the Plains of St. Pi6rre. Its length from the sea to the 
G*aad Bassin at its southern extremity, is about five geographic 
leagues in a straight line, and mean breadth nearly two leagues; 
whence the superficial extent of this district should not be' much less 
than ninety square miles. In the upper part is a lake called the 
Mitre aux Vacouas, apparently so named from the number of pan- 
danus trees, called vacouas, on its borders; and that part of Wilhems 
Plains by which the lake is surrounded, at the distance of a league, 
more or less, bears the appellation, of Vacouas; in this part my 
residence was situate, in a country overspread) with thick woodfe, a 
few plantations excepted, which had been mostly cleared within a 
few years. 

In consequence of the elevation of Vacouas* the climate is as 
much different from that ofi the low partp of the island as if it were 
several degrees without the tropic ; June, July, and August are the 
driest months at Pert Louis, but here they are most rainy, and the 
thermometer stands from 7? to is° lbwer upon an average through- 
out the year.* In a west direction, across that part of the Plains 
of St. Pierre called Le Tamarin, the sea is not more distant 

* The mean height of the thermometer in July 1805> which is the middle of winter,, 
was 671°, and of the barometer in French inches and lines, 26.7i ; and during February 
1806, the middle of summer, 76° and 26.5| were the mean heights. At M. Pitot's house 
in the town of Port Louis, the averages in the same February were 86° and 27.7|. Ac- 
cording to De Luc, the difference between the logarithms of the two heights of the baro- 
meter expresses very nearly the difference of elevation in thousand toises, when the ther- 

Digitized by LjOOQ IC 

424 r A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. than six miles; the descent is therefore rapid, and is rendered 


more so from three-fourths of the space being flat, low land; in 
comparison with Le Tamarin, Vacouas is in fact an irregular plain 
upon the top of the mountains, to which there is almost no other 
access than by making a circuit of four or five miles round by the 
lower part of Wilhems Plains. Three rugged peaks called the' 
Trbis Mamelles, and another, the Montagne du Rempart, all of 
them conspicuous at sea, are the highest points of a ridge somewhat 
elevated abpve this irregular plain, and bounding it to the westward; 
arid the road forming the ordinary communication between the high 
and low land passes round them. My retreat, which very appro-; 
priately to the circumstances of my situation bore the name of The 
Refuge, lay two or three miles to the south-east of the Trois Mamelles. 
The principal rivers in the neighbourhood are the R. du 
Tamarin and the R. du Rempart, each branching into two principal 
arms ; these collect all the smaller streams in this portion of the 
island, and arriving by different routes at the same point, make their 
junction at the head of the Baye du Tamarin, whfere their waters are 
discharged into the sea. In wet weather these rivers run with great 
force, hut in ordinary times they do not contain much water ; and 
their smaller branches are mostly dried up in October and November. 
Both arms of the R. du Rempart take their rise between one and two 
miles to the S. by E. of the Refuge, and within half a mile' of the Mare 
aux Vacouas, from which it is thought their sources are derived; 
the western arm bears the name of R. des Papayes, probably from 

mometer stands at 70° in both places; and therefore the approximate elevation of Vacouas 
above M. Phot's house, should be 187i toises, or in French feet, - - 11 23 

Correction for excess of thermometers above 70°, - - - + 25 

Supposed elevation of M. Pitot's house above the sea, - - +40 

Elevation of Vacouas in French feet, - 1 188 

The English foot being *o the French, as 12 is to 12,816, the height of Vacouas above the 
Jevel of the sea should be nearly 1269 English feet. 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 425 

the number of those trees found on its banks;* and taking its course e 1S05 - . 

°* September. 

northward, is the boundary between two series of plantations, until 
it joins the other branch at the foot of the Montagne du Rempart 
and its name is lost. The Refuge was one of these plantations 
bounded by the R. des Papayes, being situate on its eastern bank, 
and receiving from it an accession of value ; for this arm does not 
dry up in the most unfavourable seasons, neither does it overflow in 
the hurricanes. 

The eastern arm bears the name of R. du Rempart throughout, 
from its source near the mare or lake to its embouchure. Its course 
is nearly parallel to that of the sister stream, the distance between 
them varying only from about half a mile to one hundred and 
twenty yards ; and the Refuge, as also the greater number of plan- 
tations on-the eastern, or right bank of the R. des Papayes, is divided 
by it ihto two unequal parts, and bridges are necessary to keep up 
a communication between them. Although the source of this arm 
be never dried up, yet much of its water is lost in the passage; and 
during five or six months of the year that nothing is received from the • 

small branches, greater or less portions of its bed are left dry; there 
seems, however, to be springs in the bed, for at a distance from 
where the water disappears a stream is found running lower down, 
which is also lost and another appears further o^. In the summer 
rains, more especially in the hurricanes, the R. du Rempart receives 
numberless re-enforcements, and its torrent then becomes impetuous, 
carrying away the bridges, loose rocks, and every moveable obstruc- 
tion ; its partial inundations do great damage to the coffee trees, which 
cannot bear the water, and in washing off the best of the vegetable 
soil. During these times, the communication between those parts of 
the plantations on different sides of the river is cut off, until the waters 

* The papaye, papaya, or papaw, is a tree well known in the East and West Indies, and 
is common in Mauritius ; the acrid milk of the green fruit, when softened with an equal 
quantity of hcney, is considered to be the best remedy against worms, with which the 
negroes and young children, who live mostly on vegetable diet, are much troubled. 

VOL. II. 3 I 

Digitized by 


426 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. have in part subsided ; and this occurred thrice in one year and a 

September •„ J 


At the western end of the Mare aux Vacouas is an outlet 
through which a constant stream flows, and this is the commence- 
ment of the principal branch of the R. du Tamarin; the other branch, 
called the R. des Aigrettes, is said to take its rise near a more distant 
; lake, named the Grand Bassin ; and their junction is made about one 
mile to the S. S. W. of the Refuge, near the boundary ridge of the 
high land, through which they have made a deep cut, and formed a 
valley of a very romantic character. A short distance above their 
junction, each branch takes a leap downward of about seventy feet ; 
and when united, they do not run above a quarter of a mile north- 
ward before they descend with redoubled force a precipice rf nearly 
6ne hundred and twenty feet; there are then one or two small cas- 
cades, and in a short distance another of eighty or a hundred feet ; 
and from thence to the bottom of the valley, the descent is made by 
smaller cascades and numberless rapids. After the united stream 
has run about half a mile northward, and in that space descended near 
a thousand feet from the level of Vacouas, the river turns west; and 
passing through the deep, cut or chasm in the boundary ridge, enters 
the plain of Le Tamarin and winds in a serpentine course to the sea. 
The R. du Tamarin is at no time a trifling stream, and in rainy 
weather the quantity of water thrown down the cascades is consider- 
able ; by a calculation from the estimated width, depth, and rate of 
the current after a*hurricane, the water then precipitated was 1500 
tons in a minute. There are some points on the high land whence 
most of the casbades may be seen at one view, about a mile distant ; 
' from a nearer point some of them are perceived to the left, theTrois 
Mamelles tower over the woods to the right, and almost perpendicu- 
larly under foot is the impetuous stream of the river, driving its way 
amongst the rocks and woods at the bottom of the valley. In front 
is the steep gap, through which the river rushes to the low land of 
Le Tamarin ; and there the eye quits it to survey the sugar plantar 



Wilktms Plains.'] TERflA AUSTRALIA 42T 

tions, the alleys of tamarinds and mangoes, the villages of huts, and ' 180 *» 
all the party-coloured vegetation with which that district is adorned ; 
but soon it passes on to the Baye du Tamarin, to the breakers on the 
coral reefs which skirt the shore, and to the sea expanded out to a / 
very distant horizon. An elevation of ten or eleven hundred feet, 
and the distance of three or four miles which a spectator is placed 
from the plantations, gives a part of this view all the softness of a 
welkfinished drawing ; and when the sun sets in front of the gap, 
and vessels are seen passing before it along the coast, nothing seems 
wanting to complete this charming and romantic prospect. 

Amongst the natural curiosities of Mauritius may be reckoned 
the Mare aux Facouas, situate about two miles S. by E. of the Refuge, 
It is an irregular piece of fresh water of about one mile in length, 
surrounded with many hundred acres of swampy land, through 
which run four or five little streams from the back hills ;' in some > 
places it is from 90 to 25 fathoms deep, as reported, and is welt 
stocked with eels, prawns and a small red fish called damer-cerc, 
originally brought from China. The eels and prawns are indige- 
nous, and reach to a large size ; the latter are .sometimes found of 
six inches long without the beard, and the eels commonly offered % 
for sale ran from six to twenty, and some were said to attain the 
enormous weight of eighty pounds. This fish is delicate eating, and 
the largest are accounted the best ; its farm has more affinity to the 
conger than to our fresh- water eel, and much resembles, if it be 
not exactly the same species caught in the small streams of Norfolk 
Island in t^e Pacific Ocean. Whence it is that fresh-water fish should 
be found on small islands, frequently at several hundred leagues 
from other land, will probably long remain one of the secrets of 
nature ; if it were granted that they might come by sea, the difficulty 
would scarcely be less to know how they should have mounted 
precipices of many hundred feet, to reach lakes at the tops of moun- 
tains where they are not uncommonly seen. 

Five or six miles to the south of the Refuge lies another lake 

Digitized by 


428 .A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. of fresh water, called the Grand Bassin ; its situation is more ele- 


vated than Vacouas, and except the ridges and tops of mountains, it 
seemed to be in the highest part of the island. This basin is nearly 
half a mile in diameter, of a form not far from circular, and is cer- 
tainly deep ; but that it should be 84 fathoms as was said, is scarcely 
credible. The banks are rocky, and appear like a mound thrown up 
to keep the water from overflowing ; and the surrounding land, par- 
ticularly to the south, being lower than the surface of the water, 
gives the Grand Bassin an appearance of a cauldron three-quarters 
full. No perceptible stream runs into it, but several go out, drain- 
ing through hollow parts of the rocky bank, and forming the com- 
mencement of so many rivers; the Rivieres des Anguiiles, Dragon, 
and du Poste fall into the sea on the south or south-east parts of the 
island ; the R. des Aigrettes before mentioned, and the R. Noire which 
runa westward, rise not far off, but their asserted subterraneous com- 
munication with the basin is doubtful. No great difference takes 
place in the level of the water except after heavy rains ; when the 
supply, which must principally come from springs in the bottom, 
so far exceeds the quantity thrown out, as to raise it sometimes as 
much as six feet. 

Chi the western bank is a peaked hill, from which the Grand 
Bassin is not only seen to much advantage, but the view extends 
• over great, part of Mauritius, and in several places to the horizon 
of the sea. It was apparent from hence, that between the mountains 
behind Port Louis and those of La Savanne to the south, and from 
the R. Noire eastward to Port Bourbon, not one-half, probably not 
a third part of the primitive woods were cut down ; and this space 
comprehends three-fifths of the island, but excludes great part of the 
shores, near which the plantations are most numerous. 

The elevated bank round the Grand Bassin consists partly of 
stones thrown loosely together ; though porous, the stone is heavy 
and hard, of a dark grey colour, and contains numerous specks of 
what seemed to be feldt spath, with sometimes particles of mica and 

Digitized by 


Wtihems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 429 

olivine ; it is more or less ferruginous, gives a bell-like sound when m l9M * 

00 # September. 

struck, and in some parts appeared to have run in the manner of 
lava. From this description, and the circular form and elevated 
position of this basin, the geologist will probably be induced to think 
it the crater of an ancient volcano ; and since there are other large 
holes nearly similar to it, and many caverns and streams under 
ground in other parts, it may perhaps be concluded that if the island 
do not owe its origin to subterraneous fire, it has yet been subject 
to volcanic eruptions, and that the Grand Bassin was one of the 

Such were the rivers, lakes, and views which most excited my 
excursions to the north, the west, and south of the Refuge. To 
the east at a league distance, there was, according Jto my information, 
a lake called the Mare aux Jones, from whence rises the R. du Menil ; 
and taking its course northward, joins the R. de Wilhems and at 
length falls into the Grande Rivifcre. - At a further distance several 
other streams were said to rise, some running northward to the 
same destination as the above, and others south-eastward towards 
Port Bourbon ; but having never visited this part of my limits, I 
can speak of it only from report, corroborated by a view of the 
chart. The country was represented as less inhabited than Vacouas, 
owing to the want of roads and consequent difficulty of conveyance 
to the town, upon which the value of land very much depends : an 
uncleared habitation* near the Mare aux Jones was sold for 500 
dollars, whilst the same quantity of land at Vacouas was worth six 
times that sum. 

Upon the high land near the Grand Bassin and in some other 

9 The original concessions of land in Mauritius were usually of 156 J arpents, of 
40,000 French square feet each, making about 160f acres English ; this is called vn 
terrein ^habitation, ancl in abridgment a habitation, although no house should be built, 
nor a tree cut down ; by corruption however, the word is also used for any farm or planta- 
tion, though of much smaller extent, 

Digitized by 


430 A VOYAGE TO [4t Mauritius, 

? 80 j!l central parts of Mauritius, a day seldom passes throughout the year 
without rain ; even at Vacouas it falls more or less during six pr 
eight months, whilst in the low lands there ft very little except from 
December to March. r This moisture creates an abundance of vege- 
tation, and should have rendered the middle parts of the island ex- 
tremely fertile ; as they would be if the soil were not washed down 
to the low lands ^nd into the sea, almost as soon as formed. Large 
timber, whose roots are not seen on the surface, and a black soil, 
are here the exterior marks of fertility ; but near the Grand Bassin 
the trees are small, though thickly set, and the roots, unable tp 
penetrate below, spread along the ground. The little soil which has 
accumulated seeded tp be good, and it will Increase, though slowly ; 
for the decayed wood ^dds something to its quantity every year, 
whilst the trunks and roots of the trees save a part from being 
Washed sway. Both these advantages are lost in the cleared lands, 
of Vacouas, whiph besides %re made to produce fr<?m twa to fow 
crops every year ; the soil is therefore soon exhausted, and manuring 
is scarcely known. A plantation covered with loose rwks> is found ta 
retain its fertftty longest ; apparently from the stones preseryMig 
the vegetable earth agairvst the heavy raifls,as th? roots of the tr^e? 
did before the ground was cleared. 

Much of the lower part of Wilhems Plains has beep long cleared 
and occupied, wd this is one of the most agreeable portions of the 
island ; but Vacouas is in its infancy of cultivation, three-fourths of 
it being still covered with wood. This neglect it owes to the cold-* 
ness and moisture of the climate rendering it unfit for the produce of 
sugar and cotton, to its being remote from the sea side, and more 
than all to its distance from the town of Port Louis, the great mart 
for all kinds of productions. Mauritius is not laid out like the counties 
in England and other parts of Europe, with a city or market town at 
every ten or twenty miles ; npr yet like the neighbouring isle 
Bourbon >where there are two or three towns and some villages ; it 
has but one town, which is the seat of government and commerce 

Digitized by 


WMems F/kiAs.'] TERItA AttSfRALlS. 4?ll 

for both islands. In other parts the plantations are scattered irre- **>*• 


gularly ; and although half a dozen houses may sometimes be found 
near together, families within a mile of each other are considered 
as next door neighbours. Thef e being few tradesmen except in the 
town, the more considerable planters have blacksmiths, carpenters, 
and one or more taylors and shoemakers amongst their slaves, with 
forges and workshops on their plantations ; but every thing they have 
occasion to buy, even the bread for daily consumption, is generally 
brought from Port Louis. N 

The produce of tht different districts in Mauritius varies ac- 
cording to the elevation ihd climate of each; and the temperature 
of Vacouas being better suited to European vegetables, the daily 
supply of the bazar or market with them, is a great object to the 
inhabitants. Owing to the bad roads and excessive price of beasts 
of burthen, the manner universally adopted of sending these supplies 
is upon the heads of slaves ; and the distance* being twelve heavy 
miles, this employment occupies nearly the whole time of two or 
ifiorfe strong negroes, besides that of a trusty man in the town to 
make the necessary purchases and sales. The distance of a planta- 
tion from Port Louis therefore causes a material increase of expense 
and inconvenience for this object alone, and is one reason why Vacouas 
is less cultivated than many other districts ; in proportion, however, 
as timber becomes more scarce in the neighbourhood of the town, 
the woods of Vacouas will rise in value and present a greater induce- 
ment to clear the lands. Timber and planks for ships, and also for 
building houses, with shingles to cover them, were fast increasing 
in demand ; and the ftequerit presence of English cruisers, which 
prevented supplies being sent from La Savaiine atrid other woody parts 
of the sea coast, tended powerfully to throw this lucrative branch of 
internal commerce more into the hands of the landholders at Vacbuas, 
and to clear the district of its Superfluous woods. 

Besides various kinds of excellent timber for building,thes£ woods 
contain the black ebony, the heart of which is sold by weight. The 



482 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. f Tee \ s ta u an( j slender, having but few branches which are near the 

September* ° 

top ; its exterior bark is blackish, the foliage thick, and the leaf, of 
a dark green above and pale below, is smooth, not very pointed, and 
larger than those of most forest trees. It produces clusters of an 
oblong fruit, of the size of a plum, and full of a viscous, sweetish juice, 
rather agreeable to the taste. The ordinary circumference of a good 
tree is three or four feet;""when cut down, the head lopped off and 
exterior white wood chipped away, a black log remains of about six 
inches in diameter, and from twelve to fifteen feet in length, the 
weight of which is something above 300 pounds. In 1806 several 
inhabitants permitted a contractor to cut down their ebony, on con- 
. dition of receiving half a Spanish dollar for each hundred pounds of 
the black wood ; others cut it down themselves, trimmed and piled 
the logs together, and sold them on the spot for one dollar the hun- 
dred ; but those who possessed means of transporting the wood to 
town, obtained from 1 £ to «j dollars, the price depending upon the 
supply, and the number of American vessels in port, bound to China, 
whither it was principally carried. Many of the plantations in 
Vacotias were thus exhausted of their ebony ; and the tree is of so 
slow a growth, that the occupiers could expect afterwards to cut 
those only which, being too small, they had before spared ; these 
W$re very few, for the object of the planter being generally to re- 
alize a sum which should enable him to return to Europe, the future 
was mostly sacrificed -to present convenience. 

Such cleared parts of Vacouas as are not planted with maize, 
manioc, or sweet potatoes for the support of the slaves, or with 
vegetables and fruits for the bazar, are commonly laid out in coffee 
plantations, which were becoming more an object of attention, as 
they have long been at Bourbon ; the great demand made for coffee 
by the Americans, and its consequent high price, had caused this 
object of commerce to flourish in both islands, notwithstanding the 
war. Indigo and the clove tree were also obtaining a footing at 
Vacouas ; but the extensive plantations of sugar cane and cotton 

Digitized by 


WUhms Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 433 

shrubs found in the low parts of the island, appeared not to isos. 


have been attempted, and it is certain that the cotton would not 

The portions of each habitation allotted to different objects of 
culture, are usually separated by a double row of some tree or shrub, 
either useful or ornamental, with a road or path running between 
the lines. Amongst the useful is the vacoua or pandanus ; whose 
leaves being strongly fibrous, long, spreading, and armed with 
prickles, both form a tolerable fence and supply a good material for 
making sacks, bags, &c. It is only whilst young that the vacoua an^ 
swers this double purpose; but the tree is twelve or fifteen years before 
it arrives at maturity, and the leaves may be annually cut : no other use 
is made of the fruit than to plant it for the production of other trees. 
A double row of the tall jamb-rosa, or rose apple, makes the principal 
divisions in some plantations, forming agreeable, shady walks ; and 
from the shelter it affords is preferred for surrounding the coffee 
trees, which require the utmost care to protect them from hurricanes. 
A tree once violently shaken, dies five or six months afterward, as it 
does if water stand several days together round its foot; sloping 
situations, where the water may run off, are therefore preferred for 
it, and if rocky they are the more advantageous, from the firmness 
which the roots thereby acquire to resist the hurricanes. Rows of 
the banana, of which the' island possesses a great variety of species, 
are also planted by the sides of the paths leading through the habit- 
ations, sometimes behind the vacoua, but often alone; the pine apple 
serves the same purpose in others, as do the peach and other fruit 
trees where the paths are more considerable. A long and strong grass, 
called vitti-vert, is occasionally preferred for the lines of division ; 
this is cut twice or thrice in the year to be used as thatch, for which 
it is well adapted. Hedges of the ever-flowering China rose, and of 
the netshouly, a bushy shrub from India which prospers in every soil, 
are often used in place of the tall jamb-rosa to form alleys leading 
up to the house of the planter, and also the principal walks in his 
vol, ii. 3 K 

Digitized by 




[At Mauritius. 

1805. garden ; the waving bamboo, whose numberless uses are well known, 

September. ° & * ' 

is planted by the sides of the rivers and canals. 

A notion of the working and produce of a plantation at Vacouas 
will be most concisely given by a statement of the ordinary ex- 
panses and returns ; and to J render it more nearly applicable to the 
case of such persons in Europe as might form the project of becom- 
ing settlers, I will suppose a young man, with his wife and child, 
arrived at Mauritius with the intention of employing his time and 
means on a plantation in this district ; and at the end of five years 
other affairs call him thence, and he sells every thing. He is sup- 
posed to possess 18,000 dollars in money or property, to be active, 
industrious, and frugal, and though unacquainted with the business 
of a planter, to be sufficiently intelligent to gain the necessary in- 
formation in one year. With these requisites, I would examine 
whether he will have been able to subsist his family comfortably 
during the five years, and what will then be the state of his funds. 

EXPENSE*. Dollars. 

In town the first year, - 1,800 

Price of an uncleared habitation, - 3,000 
Twenty negroes, some being mechanics, 4,000 
Ten negresses, - - 1,500 

Teh children of different ages, - 1,000 
Maize 500lbs. (7£ D.), sweet potatoes 
12501bg. (Si D.), to subsist each slave 
the first year, - 450 

Head tax for 5 years, at \ D. each per an. 100 
Maroon tax for ditto - - 100 

Surgeon to attend the slaves, - 200 

Building and furnishing a house, maga- 
zine, &c, exclusive of wood and la* 
v bourers from the plantation, - 2,500 

Agricultural utensils, hand mills, &c. - 300 
100 fowls and 50 ducks for a breed, - 100 
Ten goats, - - 60 

Ten pigs, 100 

A horse, saddle, &c. - 250 

A good ass, side saddle, &c. - 120 

* Seeds and fruit trees, 50 

Coffee plants 30,000 for 20 acres, - 450 
Expenses at the plantation in 4 years, 

exclusive of domestic supplies, 3,600 

Losses from two hurricanes, - 2,000 

Total 21,680 


Of 60 acres cleared to raise provisions, 

50 are necessary to support the slaves ; 

from the rest may be sold 150,0001bs. 

of maize in 4 years, for - 2,250 

Ebony, timber, planks and shingles, sold 

on the spot during 5 years, - - 3,000 
Coffee reaped on the 5th year, 50 bales 

(lOOlbs. each) at IS D. per bale, - 750 
Vegetables and fruit sold at thebaaar, aver- 
age 2 D. per day, during four years, 2,920 
Fowls and ducks 2000 at | D. - 1,000 
Thirty goats sold, • - - 180 

Thirty hogs, - 600 

At the end of 5 years, the plantation, 

buildings, &c, will probably bring, 7>000 

Probable value of the slaves, - 5,500 

Pigs, goats, and poultry remaining, •- 260 

Horse, ass, &c. probably not more than ¥00 

Whole receipts 23,660 

Expenses and losses g 1,680 

Increase 1,U80 

Digitized by 


WUhem$ Plains.] 



The taxes and price of provisions, coffee, &c. in the above cal- 1805 » 


dilation, are taken as they usually stood in time of war, under the 
government of general De Caen ; and every thing is taken against, 
rather than in favour of the planter. In his expenses a sufficiency 
is allowed to live comfortably, to see his friends at times, and some- 
thing for the pleasure of himself and wife; but if he choose to be 
very economical, 2000 dollars might be saved fron> the sums allotted. 

In selling his plantation at the end of five y^ars, he is in a great 
measure losing the fruit of his labour ; for the coffee alone might be 
reasonably expected to prodiu^ annually one hundred bales for the 
following ten years, and make liis revenue exceed 3000 dollars per 
annum ; and if he continued to live economically upon the plantation, 
this, with the rising interest of his surplus money, would double hi> 
property in a short time. It is therefore better, supposing a man to 
possess the requisite knowledge, to purchase a habitation already 
established, than to commence upon a new one. 

The same ^person going to Vaucouas with the intention of 
quitting it at the end of five years, would not plant coffee, but turn 
his attention to providing different kinds of wood and sending it to 
Port Louis. With this object principally in view, he would purchase 
two habitations instead of one ; and as this and other expenses inci- 
dent to the new arrangement would require a greater sum than he 
is supposed to possess, he must borrow, at high interest, what is 
necessary to make up the deficiency. The amount of his receipts 
and expenses for the five years, would then be nearly as follows. 

"RECEIPTS. p^g^ 

As before, deducting wood, coffee, 

plantation and buildings, - If, 910 

Trimmed ebony sent to the town 375, 

GOOlbs. at 2 D. per 100, - 7,512 

Timber sent to Port Louis in 4 years, 

6 10 loads at 25 D. each, - 16,000 

Two habitations stripped of the best 

wood may sell for, with buildings, 4,000 
Asses and additional slaves, - 1,500 

Total 41^22 


As before, deducting coffee plants, - 
An additional habitation, 
Twenty asses, at 90 D. each, 
Harnesses for three teams, 
Three waggons built on the plantation, 
Three additional slayes, 
Interest of 6,000 dollars borrowed for 
three years, at 1 8 per cent, per an. ______ 

Total 30,420 

Total receipts 41,922 

Increase 11,602 









Digitized by 


436 A VOYAGE TO \At Mauritius. 

1805. These statements will give a general idea of a plantation at Vacouas, 
# the employments of the more considerable inhabitants, of the food 
of the slaves, &c, and will render unnecessary any further explana- 
tion on these heads. 

It y>ras considered a fair estimate, that a habitation should give 
yearly 20 per cent, on the capital employed, after allowance made 
for all common losses ; and money placed on good security obtained 
from 9 to 18 per cent, in time of war, and 12 to 24 in the preceding 
peace. Had my planter put his 18,000 dollars out at interest, 
instead of employing them on a plantation at Vacouas, and been able 
to obtain 15 per cent., he would at the end of five years, after ex- 
pending 150 dollars each month in the town of Port Louis, have 
increased his capital nearly 5,000 dollars ; but it is more than pro- 
bable that he would have fallen into the luxury of the place, and 
have rather diminished than increased his fortune. 

The woods of Vacouas are exceedingly thick, and so interwoven 
with different kinds of climbing plants, that it is difficult to force a 
passage through ; and to take a ride where no roads have been cut, 
is as impossible as to take a flight in the air. Except morasses and 
the borders of lakes, I did not see a space of five square yards in 
_, these woods, which was covered with grass and unencumbered with 

shrubs or trees; even the paths not much frequented, if not impass- 
able, are rendered very embarrassing by the raspberries, wild 
tobacco, and other shrubs with which they are quickly overgrown. 
Cleared lands which have ceased to be cultivated, are usually clothed 
with a strong, coarse grass, called chien-dent, intermixed with ferns, 
wild tobacco, and other noxious weeds. In the low districts the grass 
is of a better kind, and supplies the .cattle with tolerable food during 
three or four months that it is young and tender, and for most of the 
year in marshy places; at other times they are partly fed with maize 
straw, the refuse of the sugar mills, and the leaves and tender 
branches of some trees. 

A few short-legged hares and some scattered partridges are 

Digitized by 


Jftlhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 48T 

found near the skirts of the plantations, and further in the woods 1805 - 


there are some deer and wild hogs. Monkeys are more numerous, 
and when the maize is ripe they venture into the plantations to. steal ; 
which obliges the inhabitants to set a watch over the fields in the 
day, as the maroons and other thieves do at night. There are some 
wood pigeons and two species of doves, and the marshy places are 
frequented by a few water hens; but neither wild geese nor ducks 
are known in the island. Game of all kinds was at this time so little 
abundant in the woods of Vacouas, that even a Creole, who is an in* 
trepid hunter and a good shot, and can live where an European 
would starve, could not subsist himself and his dogs upon the pro- 
duce of the chase. Before the revolution this was said to have been 
possible; but in that time of disorder the citizen mulattoes preferred 
hunting to work, and the woods were nearly depopulated of hares 
and deer. 

Of indigenous fruits there are none worth notice, for that pro- 
duced by the ebony scarcely deserves the name ; a large, but almost 
tasteless raspberry is however now found every where by the road 
side, and citrons of two kinds grow in the woods. A small species 
of cabbage tree, called herepalmiste, is not rare and is much esteemed ; 
the undeveloped leaves at the head of the tree, when eaten raw, 
resemble in taste a walnut, and a cauliflower when boiled ; dressed 
as a sallad they are superior to perhaps any other, and make an 
excellent pickle. Upon the deserted plantations, peaches, guavas, 
pine apples, bananas, mulberries and strawberries are often left 
growing ; these are considered to be the property of the first comer, 
and usually fall to the lot of the maroons, or to the slaves in the 
neighbourhood who watch their ripening; the wild bees also furnish 
them with an occasional regale of honey. 

With respect to noxious insects, the scourge of most tropical 
countries, the wet and cold weather which renders Vacouas a disagree- 
able residence in the winter, is of singular advantage ; the numerous 
musketoes and sand flies, the swarms of wasps, the ants, centipedes* 

Digitized by 


488 .' * A VOYAGE TO [At MmtiuM. 

1805. scorpions, bugs and lizards, with which the lower parts of the island 
are more or less tormented, are almost unknown here; and fleas 
and cockroaches are less numerous. A serpent is not known to 
exist in Mauritius, though several have been found on some of the 
neighbouring islets ; it is therefore not the climate which destroys 
them, nor has it been ascertained what is the cause.* 

From this account of the situation of my retreat, it will be 
perceived that it was a vast acquisition to exchange the Garden 
Prison for Vacouas ; there, it had been too warm to take exercise, 
except in the mornings and evenings, had there been rooia and in- 
ducements; whilst at the Refuge I was obliged to clothe in woollen, 
had space to range in, and a variety of interesting objects, with the 
charm of novelty to keep me in continual motion. I bathed fre- 
quently in the R. du Rempart, walked out every fine day, and in a 
few weeks my former health was in a great measure recovered. 
Those who can receive gratification from opening the door to an 
imprisoned bird, and remarking the joy with which it hops from 
spray to spray, tastes of every seed and sips from every rill, will 
readily conceive the sensations of a man during the first days of 
liberation from a long confinement. 

* Mauritius is not singular in being free of serpents whilst they exist on lands within 
c sight, or not far off; but a late account says that one of great size has been killed on that 
island near the Reduit, supposed to have escaped out of a ship from India, wrecked on the 
coast a few years before. 

Digitized by 


jytitem* Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 49ft 


Occupations at Vacouas. Hospitality of the inhabitants. Letters from 
England. Refusal to be sent to France repeated. Account of two . 
hurricanes, of a subterraneous stream and circular pit. Habitation of % 
La Perouse. Letters to the French marine minister, National Institute 9 
&c. Letters from Sir* Edward Pellew. Caverns in the Plains of 
St. Pierre. Visit to Port Louis. Narrative transmitted to England. 
Letter to captain Bergeret on his departure for France. 

The latter end of August and beginning of September appertain to 1805. 
the winter in the southern hemisphere, during which it rains fre- Se P tembc^ • 
quently at Vacouas ; in the first month after my arrival there were 
few days that continued fine throughout, and although all opportu- 
nities were taKen to make excursions in the neighbourhood, a con- 
siderable part of the time was necessarily passed within doors. 
Having sent away my charts and instruments, and most of the books 
and papers, no object of my voyage could be prosecuted until a fur-^ 
ther supply should be obtained from the captain-general De Caen ; 
and this being the time, should it ever arrive, to which I had looked 
for gaining some knowledge of the French language, the study of 
it was now made a serious employment. 

Amongst the principal habitations near the Refuge, the pro- 
prietor of one only was resident in the country; and the introduction 
of my friend Pitot having produced an invitation, I profited by it to 
spend there several evenings, which, besides being passed agreeably, 
facilitated the study to which tnj attention was directed. There 
was living in the family an unemployed commander of a merchant 
* ship, M. Murat, who had made the voyage with Etienne Marchand,, 

Digitized by 


4# A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

1805. the account of which is so ably written by M. de Fleurieu ; he was 

September. ^ , 

obliging enough to accompany me in several excursions, and amongst 
them in a walk of five miles to the house of M. Giblot, commandant 
of the quarter of Wilhems Plains, to whom it seemed proper to 
show myself and pay a visit of ceremony. The commandant was 
unacquainted with my residence in his district, which was so far 
gratifying that it showed I was not an object of suspicion in the eye 
of the government. 
Octobei. M. Pitot came to pass a day with me at the end of a month, 

as did captain Bergeret ; and on the 9th of October, the proprietor of 
the Refuge arrived with two of her sons and three daughters, to take 
up their residence on the plantation. On the following day I received 
a proposal from Madame D'Arifat, as liberal as the terms in which it 
was couched were obliging, to partake of her table with the family, 
which after some necessary stipulations, was accepted; and in a short 
time I had the happiness to enumerate amongst my friends one of 
the most worthy families in the island. The arrival of two other pro* 
prietors from the town increased the number of our neighbours, and 
of those who sought by their hospitable kindness to make my time 
pass agreeably. To M. de Chazal I was indebted for sending out 
my baggage, and in the sequel for many acts of civility and service; 
this gentleman had passed two years in England, during the tyranny 
of Robespierre, and consequently my want of knowledge in the 
French language, at first an obstacle to communication with others, 
was none to reaping the advantage of his information. 

On the 22nd, a packet of letters brought intelligence from my 
family and friends in England, of whom I had not heard for more 
than three years; Mr. Robertson, my former companion in the 
Garden Prison, had found means to forward it to M. Pitot, by whom 
it was immediately sent to Vacouas. A letter from the president of 
the Royal Society informed hie, that the misunderstanding between 
the French and British governments was so great, that no commu- 
nication existed between them ; but that the president himself, having 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Plains?] 




obtained the approbation of the ministry, had made an application in c ? 80 ^ 
my behalf to the National Institute, from which a favourable answer 
had been received ; and there were strong hopes that so soon as the 
emperor Napoleon should return from Italy, an order for my liber- 
ation would be obtained. Our frigates, the Pitt and Terpsichore, 
came to cruise off Mauritius a short time afterward, for which I was November, 
as sorry on one account as any of the inhabitants ; every week might 
produce the arrival of the expected order, but it would probably be 
thrown overboard if the vessel should be chased, or have an engage- 
ment with our ships. 

Three months thus passed in fruitless expectation ; at length 
an aide-de-camp of the general arrived, and gave a spur to my hopes ; 
but after many days of anxiety to know the result, I learned from 
captain Bergeret that the despatches said nothing upon my imprison- 
ment. This silence of the marine minister and the great events 
rising in Europe, admitted little hope of my situation being remem- 
bered ; and I was thence led to entertain the project of once more 
requesting general De Caen to send me to France for trial ; but the 
brother of the general and another officer being also expected, it was 
deferred at that time. In effect, M. De Caen arrived on the 25th, 
in the frigate La Canonniere from Cherbourg, and excited a renewal 
of hope only to be again disappointed; the news of victories gained 
by the French over the Austrians seemed to occupy every attention, 
and threw a dark shade over all expectation of present liberty. I 
learned, however, and a prisoner's mind would not fail' to speculate 
thereon, that my detention was well known in Paris, and thought to 
be hard ; but it was also said, that I was considered in the same light 
as those persons who were arrested in France, as hostages for the 
vessels and men said to have been stopped by our ships before the 
declaration of war. My proposed letter to general De Caen was 
then sent; and after pointing out the uncertainty of orders arriving, 
or even that the marine minister should find time to think of a 
prisoner in a distant island, I repeated for the third time my request 
vol. 11. 3 L 


Digitized by 


44* A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

i^ch. tQ ^ sent to France ; where a speedy punishment would* put an end 
1 to my anxieties, if found culpable, or in the contrary case, a few days 

would restore me to my country, my family, and occupations. Cap- 
tain Bergeret had the goodness to deliver this letter, and to give it 
his support ; but it was unsuccessful, the verbal answer being that 
nothing could be done until the orders of the government were re- 
ceived. To a proposal of taking my parole to deliver: myself up in 
France, should the ship be taken on the passage, the general would 
not listen ; though my friend said he had read the letter with atten- 
tion, and promised to repeat his request to the minister for orders. 

A hurricane had desolated the island on the 20th and a 1st of 
February ; and on the 10th of this month a second came on, causing 
a repetition of mischief in the port and upon the plantations. Several 
vessels were driven on shore or blown out to sea, and more than one 
lost ; the fruit trees, sugar cane, maize, &C were laid flat with the 
earth ; the different streams swelled to an extraordinary size, carry- 
ing away the best of the vegetable soil from the higher habitations, 
mixed with all kinds of produce, branches and trunks of trees, and the 
wrecks of bridges torn away ; and the huts of the slaves, magazines, 
and some houses were either unroofed or blown down. All com- 
munication with the port was cut off from the distant quarters, and 
the intercourse between adjoining plantations rendered difficult; y6t 
this chaotic derangement was said to be trifling in comparison with 
what was suffered in the first hurricane at Bourbon, where the ves- 
sels have no better shelter than open roadsteds, and the plantations 
of cloves, coffee and maize are so much more extensive. Some 
American vessels were amongst the sufferers, but as domestic 
occurrences were not allowed to be published here, I learned only a 
very general account from the different reports : happily for our 
cruisers the last had quitted the island in January. 

In the evening of Feb. 30, when the first hurricane came on* 
the swift-passing clouds were tinged at sunset with a deep, copper 
colour ; but the moon not being near the full, it excited little appre- 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Mams.") TERRA AUSTRALIS. '44* 

hension at the Refuge. The wind was fresh, and kept increasing i*w. 
until eleven o'clock, at which time it blew very hard ; the rain fell 
in torrents, accompanied with loud claps of thunder and lightning, 
which at every instant imparted to one of the darkest nights the 
brightness of day. The course of the wind was from south-west to 
south, south-east, east, and north-east, where it blew hardest be- 
tween one and three in the morning, giving me an apprehension that 
the house, pavilions, and all would be blown away together. At 
four o'clock the wind had got round to north and began to mode- 
rate, as did the rain which afterwards came only in squalls ; at nine* 
the rain had nearly ceased, and the wind was no more than a common 
gale, and after passing round to N. N. W. it died away. At the time 
the wiijd moderated at Mauritius its fury was most exerted at Bour- 
bon, which it was said to have attacked with a degree of viplence that 
any thing less solid than a mountain was scarcely able to resist. 
The lowest to which the mercury descended in the barometer at 
Vacouas, was 5^ lines below the mean level of two days before and 
two days afterward ; and this was at daybreak, when the wind and 
rain were subsiding. 

Soon after the violence of the hurricane had abated, I went to 
the cascades of the R. du Tamarin, to enjoy the magnificent prospect 
which the fall of so considerable a body of water must afford ; 
the path. through the wood was strewed With the braitfches and 
trunks of trees, in the forest the grass and shrubs were so beaten 
down as to present the appearance of art army having passed 
that way, and the river was full up fo its banks. Having seen 
the fall in the nearest of the two arms, I descended below their 
junction, to contemplate the cascade they formed when united, down 
the precipice of 120 feet ; the noise of the fall was such that my 
own voice was scarcely audible, but a thick mist which rose up to 
the clouds from the abyss, admitted of a white foam only being 

During these hurricanes in Mauritius, the, wind usually makes 

Digitized by 


444 A VOYAGE TO {At Mauritius. 

1806. th6 whole tour 6f the compass ; and as during this of February it 
made little more than half, the apprehension of a second hurricane was 
entertained, and became verified ^bout a fortnight afterwards. The 
wind began at E. S. E. with rainy weather, and continued there twenty- 
four hours, with increasing force ; it then shifted quickly to north- 
east, north, north-west, and on the third evening .was at W. S. W., 
where it gradually subsided. This was not so violent as the first 
hurricane, but the rain fell in torrents, and did great mischief to the 
latid, besides destroying such remaining part of the crops as were 
at all in an advanced state : at Bourbon it. did not do much injury, 
the former, it was said, having left little to destroy. The wind had now 
<x>mpleted the half of the compass which it wanted in the first hur- 
ricane ; and the unfortunate planters were left to repair their losses 
without further dread for this year : maize and manioc, upon which 
' the slaves are principally fed, rose two hundred per cent. 

An opinion commonly entertained in Mauritius, that*hurricanes 
are little to be apprehended excppt near the time of full moon, does 
not seem to be well founded. In 1805 indeed, there was a heavy 
gale on April 14 and 15, a few days after the full ; but the first of 
the two hurricanes above-mentioned took place a day or two before 
the new rnoon, and the middle of the second within twenty-four 
hours of the last quarter ; whence it should appear that the hurri- 
canes have no certain connexion with the state of this planet. 
January, February, and March are the months which excite the most 
dread, and December and April do not pass without apprehension ; 
for several years, however, previously to 1805, no hurricane had 
been experienced ; and the inhabitants began to hope, that if the 
clearing of the country caused a dearth of rain at some times of the 
year, it would also deliver them from these dreadful scourges ; for 
it \Us to the destruction of the woods that the dryness of preceding 
years and the cessation of hurricanes were generally attributed. 

On the 2i;st, His M. ship Russel came off the island upon a 
cruise, atld chased into Port Louis La Piemontaise, a French frigate 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 44& 

which had sailed from Europe in December. By this opportunity a J^*, 
confirmation of some, and an account of other victories gained ovqr 
the Austrians were received, as also of the great naval action off 
Cape Trafalgar ; the bulletins of the former were inserted in the 
gazette of the island, but except a report from the officers of Le 
Redoutable, not a word 'of the naval action ; amidst such events as/ 
these, the misfortunes of an individual must be very striking to oc- 
cupy even a thought. , k 

In a visit to M. Plumet, and to M. Airolles, the proprietor of 
an extensive plantation called Mcnil, in his neighbourhood, I had an 
opportunity of seeing a rivulet, which for some distance runs under 
ground. The bed of this stream resembled a work of art, seeming 
to have been nicely cut out of the solid rock ; and close by the side 
of it was a cavern, containing layers of a ferruginous stone likelava^ 
their combined appearance excited an idea that the canal might have 
been once occupied by a, vein of iron ore, which being melted by sub- 
terraneous fire, found an exit, and left a place for the future passage 
of the waters. About one mile from hence, and in a more elevated 
situation, is a large and deep hole, of a form nearly approaching to a ^ 
perfect circle, and its upper part occupying, according to M. Airolles, 
the place of seventeen arpents of land ; I judged it to be two hun- 
dred feet deep, and that the loose stones in its bottom formed a flat 
of four or five acres, the angle of descent being nearly equal on all 
sides. The stones around, and at the bottom of this vast pit are 
more, honey-combed than is usual in other parts, and much resemble 
those of the Grand Bassin, of whose nature they seemed to partake 
in other respects. 

M6nil comprehends a smaller plantation, formerly occupied 
by the unfortunate La P6 rouse, who was some time an inhabitant 
of this island. I surveyed it with mixed sensations of pleasure and 
melancholy; the ruins of his house, the garden he had laid out, 
the still blooming hedge-rows of China roses — emblems of his repu- 
tation, every thing was an object of interest and curiosity. This spot 

Digitized by 


44* • A VOYAGE TO [At Jlfauritius 

Mrch. 1S nearl y in * e centre of the island, and upon the road from Port 
Louis to Port Bourbon. It was here that the man lamented by the 
good and well informed, of all nations,-r-whom science illumined, 
and humanity, joined to an honest ambition, conducted to the haunts 
of remote savages, — in this spot he once dwelt, perhaps little known 
to the world, but happy ; when he became celebrated he had ceased 
to exist. M. Airolles promised me to place three square blocks of 
stone, one upon the other, in the spot where the house of this la- 
mented navigator had stood ; and upon the uppermost stone facing 
the road, to engrave, La Perouse. 

April. My lame seaman having recovered from the accident of his 

broken leg, colonel Monistrol granted a permission for his depar- 
ture in the beginning of April ; and he was shipped on board 
the Telemaque — Clark, bound to Boston in America. His com- 
panion, the last of the Cumberland's crew, had the same means 
offered of recovering his liberty ; but he still refused to leave me in 

On the 15th I sent away two packets of letters, one for the 
Admiralty and my friends in England, the other to France ; the last 
contained a second letter to M. de Fleurieu, and one to the French 
marine minister giving a short account of my voyage and detention ; 
it inclosed the extract from captain Baudin (p. 399), and requested 
His Excellency would direct general De Caen either to set me at 
liberty, or send me to France with my books and papers for exami- 
nation. These letters were accompanied by duplicates of those 
written by my friend Pitot in March 1805, to Messieurs De Bou- 
gainville, De la Lande, Chaptal, and Dupuis,and were sent away by 
two different conveyances. The Society of Emulation, formed hi 
Mauritius the preceding year to promote literary and philosophical 
pursuits, but especially to advance the agriculture, navigation, and 
commerce of the two islands, wrote also to the National Institute 
in my favour ; and as its sentiments may be supposed analogous 
to those of the most enlightened part of the inhabitants?, I venture 

Digitized by 


WMems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 447 

to give in the original French a copy of that letter in a note, to show ^J* 
what those sentiments were.* 

* Messieurs les Presidents et Secretaires des diverses classes 
de llnstitut des sciences, lettres et arts, k Paris. 

Permettez nous de chercher k vous interesser en faveur d'un homme dont les talens, 
le courage, et l'honorabie profession m&itent l'estime de tous ceux qui, comqae vous, 
messieurs, savent apprecier les sciences les plus utiles et les plus glorieuses k rhumanite" • 
Nous n'vons pas besoin de vous rapf>eller les circonstances de I'emprisonnement du capi- 
taine Flinders, pour lequel nous reclamons aujourd'hui l'emploi de voire credit et de 
celui de vos amis ; vous en avez 4*6 sans doute informes depuis long terns ; vous avez su 
que pendant deux annexes il a parcouru, au p£ril raille fois instant de sa vie, des naers 
inconnuesjusqu'alors, et senses de dangers toujours renaissants; vous avez suqu'apres 
tin naufrage ou son courage et son babilite) ont pu seuls I'eropecber de perdre la vie, ainsi 
que tous ses compagnons d'infortune, il n'a pu trouver pour retourner en Europe qu'une 
barque de vingt et«queJquestot>neaux,— qu'il sest expose) sur cette frfcle embarcation pour 
rentrer dans sa patrie,— que force par le manque d'eau, de vivres, les mauvaises qualites 
de son both, l'£tat de d&resse oil il se trouvait result, la maladie qui le tourmentait ainsi 
que le seul officfer qu'il eut a bord du Cumberland, et enfin le roauvais itst de ses pom pes 
de venues absolument incapable d'etre employees,— il est venu, son passeport k la main, r6- 
clamer les secoursd'une colonic appartenant ila nation renommee pour la protection li- 
berate et le gen&reux accueil accorded par elle aux savants de tous Its £tats, de toutes les 
nations, surtout quand le malheur les a frappds ; vous savez, enfin, que depuis le jour oik 
il a mis le piedsur une terre jadis hospitaliere, il s'est vu livre d une detention dont vous 
pouvez apprecier l'amerUune et les suites funestes pour sa sante, son avancement, le sort 
de sa famille, et nous osons le dire aussi, pour les progres de la geographie et de la navi- 
gation, Vingt-huit mois se sont £coul4s depuis ce jour si infortune* pour lui, et son sort 
n'a point change^; les esperances qu'il avait du concevoir d'un prompt elargissement se 
sont ivanouies, et l'ont laiss£ en proie au plus profbnd disespoir 5 il voulait garder le si- 
lence et s'abandonner sans nouveaux efforts k la rigueur de sa position, attendre ind6finir 
ment peut-etre que Ton eut prononce" son arr&t. Nous avoos reteve* son courage, abatta 
par tant d'infortunes, nous lui avons donn£ l'assu ranee, sans craindue un moment que la 
spit put nous d£mentir; que vous ni seriez point insensibles k son iofortune,— que vous 
employeriez avec zele pour lui procurer son Elargissement, ou au moins cette faveur qu'il 
jolicite avec tant d'ardeur depuis long terns, d'etre appelle* en France pour y etre jug£, et 
condamn£ s'il est coupable, mais dElivre* et rendu k sa pqtrie, k ses parents, k ses travaux 
utiles, s'il est innocent,— si jamais il n'est entre* dans son coeur un seul desir, une seule 
pens£e, dont Fexecution put fetre nuisible k un individu de quelque classe, de quelque 

Digitized by 


44fr A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

Ah 6 ' * n ^ a y» m y fri enc * Pitot was accompanied in his monthly visit 

by M. Baudin, an officer of the frigate last arrived from France, who 
had made the voyage in Le G6ographe with hi$ name sake \ and 
with liberality of sentiment, possessed that ardent spirit of enterprise 
by which the best navigators have been distinguished. He informed 
me that M. de Fleurieu was acquainted with most of the circumstances 
attending my arrival in this island, and took an interest in my situa- 

tion qu'il fit partie. Que n'a-t-il pu des long terns paraitre devant an tribunal, et y 
plaider sa cause ! Bientdt tous ses juges seraient devenus ses amis et ses admirateurs; il 
ne leur efit fallu qu'un moment pour reconnaitre sa loyaute, ses principes d'houneur, et 
pour chercher partout~ce que la generosite Franchise a d'egards et de delicatesse k le 
dedommager des tourments qu'il a soufferts. Le gouvernement lui-m£me, disabuse bientot, 
efit reconnu que jamais le capitaine Flinders ne s'est ecarte de la route que lui prescri- 
vaient ses fonctions; qu'il s'est mootre partout et constamment, non point le 
navigateur d'une nation etrangere, mais l'agent de toutes les nations, ' le promoteur 
des sciences et l'ami de l'humanite ; enfin, que ses travaux et ses vertus lui donnent des 
droits k 1'estime et k l'amitie de tous les successeurs des Cook et des La Perouse, pour ne 
parler ici que de ceux dont la mort a termini la glorieuse canriere. Ces hommes k qui 
toutes les classes de la societe sont redevables de tant de bienfaits, ne sont pas assez com- 
muns pour qu'il soit permis d'entendre avec indifference le recit de leurs malheurs, et de 
negliger quelques unes des demarches qui pourraient y mettre un terme. Nul mieux 
que tous ii'egt fait pour sentir la force et l'importance de cette veVite; et quand nous vous 
supplions d'embVasser la cause du capitaine Flinders, quand nous le recommandons k votre 
zele, k votre protection, c'est peut-etre moins unefaveur que nous reclamons de vous, 
qu'un devoir que nous vous rappellons. 

Employez done s'il le faut, nous vous conjurons, en faveur du capitaine Flinders, Tin- 
fluence du premier corps savant de TEurope, de l'lnstitut National, et que Teneur qui a 
donne lieu k la captivite de ce savant navigateur soit enfin reconnue ; vouz aurez acquis, 
en le rendant k ses nobles occupations, de nouveaux t'ttres k 1'estime et k la reconnaissance 
de toutes les nations, et k celle de tous les amis de l'humanite. 

Veuillez agreer l'assurance de notre respect ueux devouement, et nous croire, Messieurs, 
Vos tres humbles et tres obeissants serviteurs 

Les membres composant le bureau de la 
Societe d'Emulation de lisle de France. 
(Signe par le president, les trois secretaires, 
et un membre adjoint au bureau.) 

Digitized by 


Wtihems Plain.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 449 

tion, as did many others in Paris; but could not say what might be ^ 6 - 
the opinion or intentions of the government. 

On the 6th, colonel Monistrol sent me two open letters from 
rear-admiral sir Edward Pellew, commander in chief in the East 
Indies; in the first of which it was said,—" The circumstances of 
" your situation have impressed themselves most strongly on my 
" attention ; and I feel every disposition to alleviate your anxiety, 
" without, I fear, the means of affording you any present relief from 
" your very unpleasant situation.— I have transmitted your letter to 
" the Admiralty, that steps may forthwith be taken for your release 
" at home, by effecting your exchange for an officer of equivalent , 
" rank ; under an impression that at least it may insure your return 
" to Europe on parole, if that should be a necessary preliminary to 
" your final liberation." To give an officer of equivalent rank was pro- 
bably the most certain mode of obtaining my speedy release, but was 
not altogether agreeable to justice. It seemed to me, that the liber- 
ation of an officer employed on discovery, and bearing a passport, 
ought to be granted as a matter of right, without any conditions ; 
and accompanied with the restitution of every thing belonging to.his 
mission and himself, if not with an atonement to the offended laws 
of good faith and humanity ; but this was only the just, the views of 
sir Edward were directed to the expedient, and showed a better 
knowledge of mankind. His second letter, dated January 15, 1806 , 
contained sentiments nearly similar to the first, without any new 
subject upon which to ground the hope of an early release; that my 
situation, however, should have excited the attention and interest of 
an officer of sir Edward Pellew's established character and merit, if 
it did not much increase the prospect of a speedy return to my coun- 
try and occupations, was yet gratifying to the feelings, and a con- 
solation under misfortune. 

In compliance with an invitation from M. Curtat, a friend of 
our good family at the Refuge, I went to his plantation near the Baye 
du Tamarin, which was within my limits ; and had an opportunity 
vol. 11. 3 M 

Digitized by 


450 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

- *2°*- of seeing his sugar and cotton manufactories, as also the embouchure 
of the rivers du Tamarin and du Rempart. The bay into which 
they are discharged is no more than a sandy bight in the low land, 
partly filled up with coral ; and it would soon be wholly so, did not 
the fresh stream from the rivers keep a channel open in the middle; 
it is however. so shallow, that except in fine weather fishing boats 
even cannot enter without risk. 

Upon a plantation in the Plains of St. Pierre, about one mile 
from the foot of the Montagne du Rempart, are some caverns which 
M. Curtat procured me the means of examining. In the entrance of 
one is a perpetual spring, from which a stream takes its course under 
ground, in a vaulted passage; M. Ducas, the proprietor of the 
plantation, said he had traced it upon a raft, by the light of flambeaux, 
more than half a mile without finding its issue ; but he supposed it to 
be in a small lake near the sea side. The other cavers had evidently 
been connected with the first, until the roof gave way in two places 
-and separated them. The middle portion has a lofty arch, and might 
be formed into two spacious apartments ; its length is not many 
fathoms, but the third portion, though less spacious, runs in a wind- 
ing course of several hundred yards. From being unprovided with 
torches we did not pass the whole length of this third cavern; but 
at the two extremities, and as far within as could be distinguished, 
the roof admitted of standing upright, and the breadth was eight 
or ten yards from side to side. 

About thirty years before, this part of the Plains de St. Pterre 
had been covered with wood, and the caverns inhabited by a set of 
maroon negroes, whose depredations and murders spread consterna- 
tion in the neighbourhood. Their main retreat an the third cavern 
Was discovered by a man whom they had left for dead ; but having 
watched them to their haunt, he gave information to the officers of 
justice, and troops were sent to take them. After securing the fur- 
ther outlet, the soldiers crept to the principal entrance, near which 
the maroons kept a sentinel with loaded musket in the top of a tree ; 

Digitized by 


WUhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 451 

he was found nodding on his post, and having shot him they rushed H|H?- ; . 
in a body to the mouth of the cavern. The poor wretches within 
started from their beds, for they slept in the day time, and flew to 
arms; a skirmish ensued, in which another of them was killed and 
two soldiers wounded ; but at length, finding their retreat cut off, 
the sentinel, who happened to be their captain and chief instigator, 
killed, and the force opposed to them too great to be overcome, they 
yielded themselves prisoners to the number of fifty-one ; and were 
marched off, with their hands tied, to head quarters, to the great joy 
of the district. Besides arms and a small quantity of ammunition, 
there was little else found in the cavern than a bag of dollars, a case ' 
of wine, some pieces of cloth, a slaughtered goat, and a small pro- 
vision of maize not more than enough for one day. The skull of . fc 
their captain, who was said to be possessed of much cunning and 
audacity, was at this time lying upon a stone at the entrance of the 
cavern ; and for narrowness of front and large extent at the back 
part of the head, was the most singularly formed cranium I ever saw. 
Little oblong inclosures, formed with small stones by the sides of the 
cavern, once the sleeping places of these wretches, also existed, 
nearly in the state they had been left ; owing apparently to the super- 
stition of the black, and the policy and disgust of the white visitants 
to these excavations. 

The stone here is mostly of an iron-grey colour, heavy, and 
porous ; and there were marks upon the sides of the middle cavern 
which might have arisen either from a sulphureous substance yielded 
by the stone when in a state of ignition, or from an impregnated 
water draining through the roof during a succession of time ; upon 
the whole,, though it seemed probable that these caverns owe their 
origin to the same cause as the subterraneous canal at M£nil, the < 
marks of fire in them were neither distinct nor unequivocal. The 
position of these long, winding excavations, in a country nearly level 
*and of small elevation, appeared to be the most extraordinary cir- 
cumstance attending them ; but in this island they are commonly so 

Digitized by 


452 A VOYAGE TO \Jt Mauritius 

i8o«. situate, particularly that remarkable one, of which a detailed account 
is given in Grant's History of Mauritius from M. de St. Pierre. 

Quitting Le Tamarin with M. Curtat, I went to the town of Port 
Louis, to take up my residence for a few days with my friend Pitot, 
the captain-general having granted a permission to that effect. One 
of the objects for which I had asked the permission, was to obtain a 
further one to visit La Poudre d'Or and Flacq, on the north-east side 
of the island ; but my application was refused after two or three days 
consideration, and accompanied with an order to return immediately 
to Wilhems Plains. It appeared that general De Caen had received 
a letter of reproach from governor King of Port Jackson, inclosing, 
it was said, a copy of that I had written to the governor in August 
1804, wherein my reception and treatment at Mauritius were de- 
scribed in colours not calculated to gratify the general's feelings ; 
it was even considered, and perhaps was in him, a great act of for T 
bearance that he did not order me to be closely confined in the tower^ 

During this short residence in town, the attentions of my friend 
Pitot, of captain Bergeret, and several other French inhabitants were 
such as bespoke a desire to indemnify me for the ill treatment of their 
governor, whose conduct seemed to be generally disapproved ; my 
acquaintance with major Dunienville of La Savanne was renewed, as 
also with M. Boand, the good Swiss, whose anxiety to serve me when 
a prisoner in the Cafe Marengo, had not lost any thing of its ardour. 
At the Garden Prison, which I could not refrain from visiting, there 
was no one but the old Serjeant, the six or eight Englishmen in the 
island being kept at the Grande Riviere. In returning to Wilhems 
Plains I made a tour by the district of Mocha, both to see that part 
of the island and to visit M. Huet de Froberville, with whom his 
intimacy with the good family at the Refuge had brought me ac- 
quainted; this gentleman was nephew of Huetius, the celebrated 
bishop of Avranches, and author of Sidner, or the dangers of imagina- 
tion, a little work published in Mauritius. 

The usual season of arrivals from France expired with the 

Digitized by 


tVilhems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIS. 468 

month of May, and the time elapsed since my first detention, without woe. 


being otherwise noticed by the French government than giving 
general De Caen its temporary approbation, had exceedingly weak- 
ened my confidence in its justice ; it appeared moreover, that not 
only had no public application been made by our government for my 
liberty and the restitution of my charts and journals, but that the 
advancement I had been led to expect in consequence of the voyage, 
was stopped. This could not be from inattention, and therefore 
probably arose either from a want of information, or from some 
misconceived opinions at the Admiralty ; to remove which, it seemed 
necessary to transmit an account of all the circumstances attending 
my imprisonment, accompanied with the letters to and from the 
captain-general, and such other pieces as were proper to the authen- 
tication of the narrative. I was occupied in writing this account when 
the Warren Hastings, richly laden from China, was ^ken by La July, 
Ptemontaise and brought to Mauritius ; and captain Larkins having 
obtained permission to return to England, he offered by letter to take 
charge of any thing I desired to transmit. The narrative, completed 
to the time of leaving the Garden Prison, was therefore conveyed to 
him ; and in an accompanying letter to the Admiralty, my hopes 
were expressed that their Lordships would not suffer an imprison- 
ment, contrary to every principle of justice and humanity, to continue 
without notice^— without such steps being taken to obtain my release 
and the restitution of my remaining charts and papers, as in their 
wisdom should seem meet. Captain Larkins had ineffectually sought 
to obtain a permission to come to Wilhems Plains, and my request 
to go to the town for a day or two was refused ; he therefore sailed August, 
without my being able to see him or any of his officers ; and his 
departure was preceded by that of my friend Pitot for Bourbon, and 
followed by the embarkation of captain Bergeret for France. 

In consequence of the many kindnesses conferred by M. Pitot 
on several of our countrymen as well as myself, I had been induced 
to write some letters at his request to the commanders of His 

Digitized by 


454 A VOYAGE TO [dt Mauritius. 

A^faL Majesty's ships; recommending to their favour, in case of being taken, 
such of his friends as had a claim to it, either from services rendered 
to prisoners or from their superior talents ; and I did not let slip the 
occasion of his voyage to Bourbon, to testify in this manner my sense 
of his worth. To soften the rigour of confinement to deserving men, 
is a grateful task ; I conceived that a war between two nations does 
not necessarily entrain personal enmity between each of their re- 
spective individuals, nor should prevent us from doing particular 
acts of kindness where merit and misfortune make the claim ; and 
in the confidence that such were the general sentiments of officers 
in the navy, I had no hesitation in addressing myself to them. Pos- 
sibly some would think these applications unadvisably made ; but 
no, — to distinguish merit and repay the debt of gratitude contracted 
by unfortunate brother officers or countrymen, are too congenial to 
the hearts of Britons ; to those who produced either, or both of these 
titles an English seaman could not be deaf, and on no other account 
was my suffrage obtained. 

Captain Bergeret's name was too well known to need any re- 
commendation from me ; but I wished to express my gratitude for 
his generous proceedings to many English prisoners, and to have 
the advantage of his influence in obaining an order from his govern- 
ment for my liberty, or otherwise for being sent to France to be 
examined. The letter transmitted a short time before he sailed, ex*» 
presses the state of a prisoner's mind when suffering under injustice 
and wearied with disappointment ; on this account, the greater 
number of readers will be induced to excuse the insertion of the fol- 
lowing passages, which otherwise are without importance, and per- 
haps without interest. 

I need not at this time call to your recollection what my situation is 
in this place. I have been so long pressed underthe hand of injustice, and 
my confidence in the French government is so much exhausted, that I am 
reduced to asking as a favour what ought to be demanded as a right. On 
your arrival in France then, my dear Sir, forget not that I am here, — that 

Digitized by 


Waiems Bains.] TERRA AUSTRALIS, 465 

my prayer is, to be examined, to be tried, to be condemned, if I hare in 1806. 
action, intention, or thought, done any thing whilst employed in my voyage 
of discovery, against the French nation or its allies,— if in any way I have 
infringed upon the line of conduct prescribed by the passport of the first 
consul of France. To have the best years of my life, the essence of my 
existence thus drained away without any examination into the affair ; to have 
the fruits of my labours and risks thus ravished from me,— -my hopes of 
advancement and of reputation thus cruelly blasted, is almost beyond what I 
am able to support. Use then, I conjure you, Sir, your best endeavours with 
those men in France who have it in their power to forward my wish ; with 
those men for whom a voyage of discovery, the preservation of national faith, 
and the exercise of humanity have still attractions. With such men, in spite 
of the neglect which my extraordinary situation here has undergone, now 
near three years, I will not believe but that the French empire abounds ; a 
Fleurieu, a Bougainville, a Lalande, a Delambre, and numberless others, — 
can such men be strangers to national honour and humanity P Has a maa 
reduced to misfortune by his ardent zeal to advance geography and its 
kindred sciences, no claims upon men like these ? It cannot be. However 
unworthy an instrument I am in the hands of our literary British worthies, 
my employment, if not my misfortunes, give me a claim upon their assistance 
in obtaining, at least, an examination into my crimes or my innocence ; and 
this claim I now make. See these celebrated men, Sir, explain to them the 
circumstances of my situation, tell them the plain tale, and that it is towards 
them, though so distant, that my looks are directed ; your own name 
will give you an introduction, and the cause you undertake will not dis- 
grace it. 

Adieu, worthy Sir, may the winds be propitious, and may you never be 
reduced to the bitterness of sighing after justice in vain. * v 

Digitized by 


456 A VOYAGE TO {At Mauritius. 


Effects of repeated disappointment on the mind. Arrival of a cartel, and 
. of letters from India. Letter of the French marine minister. Restitu- 
tion of papers. Applications for liberty evasively answered. Attempted 
seizure of private letters. Memorial to tip marine minister. Encroach- 
ments made at Paris on the Investigator's discoveries. Expected attack 
on Mauritius produces an abridgment of liberty. Strict blockade. 
Arrival of another cartel from India. State of the public finances in 
Mauritius. French cartel sails for the Cape of Good Hope. 

i8o<*. INews of negotiations at Paris for peace formed the principal topic 
* of conversation at Mauritius in September, and no one more than 
myself could desire that the efforts of Lord Lauderdale might be 
crowned with success ; a return to England in consequence of such 
an event was of all things what I most desired, but the hope of peace, 
before national animosity and the means of carrying on war became 
diminished, was too feeble to admit of indulging in the anticipation^ 
Noronber, The state of incertitude in which I remained after nearly three years 
of anxiety, joined to the absence of my friends Bergeret and Pitot, 
brought on a dejection of spirits which might have proved fatal, had 
I not sought by constant occupation to force my mind from a subject 
so destructive to its repose; such an end to my detention would have 
given too much pleasure to the captain-general, and from a sort of 
perversity in human nature, this conviction even brought its share 
of support, I reconstructed some of my charts on a larger scale, 
corrected and extended the explanatory memoir, and completed for 
the Admiralty an enlarged copy of the Investigator's log book, so 
far as the materials in my hands could admit ; the study of the French 

Digitized by 


Wilhems Plains.] 


language was pursued with increased application, and many books 
in it, particularly voyages and travels, were read. But what assisted 
most in dispelling this melancholy, was a packet of letters from 
England, bringing intelligence of my family and friends ; and the 
satisfactory information that Mr. Aken had safely reached London, 
with all the charts, journals, letters and instruments committed to 
his charge. 

No occurrence more particular than the departure in January 
of a prisoner of war, which furnished an opportunity of writing to 
England, took place for several months. In April the season for 
the arrival of ships from France was mostly passed, and the captain- 
general had still received no orders ; being than at the town, I re- 
quested of him an audience through the intervention of M. Beckmann, 
who engaged, in case of refusal, to enter into an explanation with His 
Excellency and endeavour to learn his intentions. On his return, 
M. Beckmann said that the general had expressed himself sensible of 
the hardship of my situation, and that he every day expected to re- 
ceive orders from France ; but being unable to do any thing without 
these orders, it was useless to see me, and he recommended waiting 
with patience for their arrival. 

In acknowledgment for the letter written to the National 
Institute by the Society of Emulation, I sent to it a description of 
Wreck Reef, with my conjectures upon the place where the unfor- 
tunate La P6rouse had probably been lost ; arid this letter, as also a 
succeeding one upon the differences in the variation of the magnetic 
needle on ship-board, was transmitted by the Society to the Institute 
at Paris. 

The effect of long protracted expectation, repeatedly changing 
its object and as often disappointed, became strongly marked in my 
faithful servant. This worthy man had refused to quit the island at 
the general exchange of prisoners in August 1805, and also in the 
following year when his companion, the lame seaman, went to 
America, because he would not abandon me in misfortune ; but the 
vol. 11. 3 N 







Digitized by 


4& A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius- 

1&07. despair of our being ever set at liberty had now wholly taken posses- 
sion qf his senses. He imagined that all the inhabitants of the island, 
even those who were most friendly, were leagued with the captain- 
general against Us ; the signals on the hills communicated my every 
step, the political articles in the gazettes related in a metaphorical 
manner the designs carrying on, the new laws at that time publish- 
ing showed the punishments we were doomed to suffer, persons seen 
in conversation, every thing in fine, had some connexion with this 
mysterious league ; and the dread of some sudden and overwhelming 
blow left him no peace, either by day or night. This state of mind 
continued some months, his sleep and appetite had forsaken him, and 
he wasted daily ; and finding no other means of cure than persuading 
him to return to England, where he might still render me service, a 
permission for his departure was requested and obtained; and in the 

July, beginning of July he embarked on board an American brig, for 
Baltimore. I gave into his charge some remaining charts and books, 
and many letters ; and had the satisfaction to see him more easy, 
and almost convinced of the folly of his terrors on finding he was 
really allowed to go away, which till then K had appeared to him 

On the 18th, arrived the Hon. Company's ship Marquis Wel- 
lesley, as a cartel from Madras, with French prisoners ; and four 
days afterward colonel Monistrol transmitted me a letter from the 
secretary of sir Edward Pellew, containing the extract of a despatch 
to the captain-general, and two letters of a more recent date from 
the admiral himself. One of these, addressed upon His Majesty's 
service, was as follows. 

H. M. ship Duncan, Madras Roads, 21st June., 1807. 

Two days ago I renewed my application to the captain-general De 
Caen in your favour, requesting that His Excellency would permit of your 
departure from the Isle of France, and suggesting the opportunity now offered 
fcy His Majesty's ship Greyhound. 

Digitized by 


Wtikems Plains.] TERRA AUSTRALIA 459 

I have since received despatches from England, containing the letter J 807* 
of which a copy is now inclosed, from Mr. Marstfen, secretary of the Ad- 
* imralty,* therewith transmitting instructions for your release under the 
authority of the Frejich minister of marine, to the captain-general of the French 

I congratulate you most sincerely on this long protracted event ; and I 
trust, if your wishes induce you to proceed to India, that you may be enabled 
to embark with captain Troiibridge, for the purpose of proceeding to 
England from hence by the first opportunity. 

(Signed.) Edward Pellew. 

The admiral's second letter was a private one, inviting me to 
take up my residence in his house at Madras, until such time as the 
departure of a King's ship should furnish an opportunity of returning 
to England; and was accompanied by one from captain Troubridge, . 
expressing the pleasure he should -have in receiving me ; but the 
Greyhound had already been sent away two days! and nothing 
announced any haste in the general to put the order into execution. 
I then wrote to request His Excellenc) r would have the goodness to 
confirm the hopes produced by these letters ; or that, if they were 
fallacious, he would be pleased to let me know it. It was seven days 
before an answer was given ; colonel Monistrol then sraid, " His 
" Excellency the captain-general has charged me to answer the 
" letter which you addressed to him on the 24th of this month ; and 
" to tell you that, in effect, he has received through the medium of 
" His Excellency sir Edward Pellew, a despatch from His Excellency 
" the minister of the marine and the colonies of France, relative to 

• Copy. 

The accompanying letter is understood to contain a direction from the French 
government for the release of captain Flinders. It has already been transmitted to thf 
Isle of France in triplicate 5 but as it may be hoped that the vessels have been all cap^ 
tared, you had better take an opportunity of sending this copy by a flag of truce, provided 
you have not heard in the mean time of Flinders being at liberty. 

Admiralty, 80th Dec. 1806. (Signed) William Marsden. 

Digitized by 


460 A VOYAGE TO [At Mauritius. 

I807. "you. I am also charged to send you the copy, herewith joined, of 
" that letter ; and to inform you that so soon as circumstances will 
cc permit, you will fully enjoy the favour which has been granted 
" you by his Majesty the Emperof and King." This long expected 
document from the marine minister was literally as follows. 

Ministers. Parts, U 21 Mars l8o(>. 

de la Marine. 

Administration Le ii Termidor an 12 f July 30, 1804J, Monsieur i fai repondu 

g6n e esco # votre ^ip^che du 26 Nivose (January 16, 1804),^ la mime annee, 

Bureau J^o. 27, relativement a la goelette Anglaise le Cumberland, commandee 

des colonies orien- 

tales et des cdtes par le Cap*. Flinders, et aux motifs qui vous ont portc d retenir ce capi- 
& A No?8 C w to . tainejusqu'a ce quefaie pu vous /aire connaitre les intentions de S. M.. 
Envoy d f un avis du Je vous prevenais a cette epoque que le Conseil cTEtat venait, sur mon 
Conseii dEtat, ap- ra pp or t d'etre saisi de la connoissance de la detention dont ils'agit : et je 

prouv6 par S. M., rr ' . . . , . 

pouriamise enii- vous transmets aujourd'huy, ci-joint, Vavis de ce Conseil approuze par 

berte* du Capitaine _, _, _ . ? , yr ^ . . 

Flinders, et la res- I Empereur et Roi le ii dece mois. Vousy verrez que votre conduite est 
timent? dC MmBk ' apprauvee et que, par un pur sentiment de gSnerosite, le Gouvernement 
accorde au Capitaine Flinders sa liberte et la remise de son batiment. 
Recevez, Monsieur, I 9 assurance de ma consideration dxstinguee. : 
Le ministre de la marine et des colonies 

Au Capitaine- SignC DECRES. 

oenebaldes Isles Pour copie conforme. 

de FaANCF, et de j^ chef de i^tat-major, commandant d'armes, 

la Reunion. /cv j\ <**■ • . ' % 

(Signed) MonistroL